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CHE 57n42: Bernard Herrmann: Hollywood's Musical Poet
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CHE 57n42: Bernard Herrmann: Hollywood's Musical Poet
http://chronicle.com/article/Bernard-Herrmann-Hollywoods/128068/

Bernard Herrmann's singular career career in Hollywood helped make film
music an important subject of academic study.
Enlarge Image

By Jack Sullivan

Everyone who loves movies knows the music of Bernard Herrmann, whether
they realize it or not. The growling brass in Citizen Kane, the spiraling
arpeggios in Vertigo, the rocketing fandango in North by Northwest, the
sultry alto sax in Taxi Driver, the slashing strings in Psycho--these are
iconic sounds in modern cinema. Herrmann has a wide range, from the
silvery elegance of The Magnificent Ambersons to the blustery menace of
Mysterious Island, but his obsessive motifs, floating modal chords, and
sudden bursts of longing are instantly recognizable. Listen to the
plummeting brass in Cape Fear or the glassy strings in the original
Twilight Zone theme: They don't resolve, don't provide closure, and don't
really go anywhere; they just lodge in our imaginations, haunting us long
after the screen goes dark.

Herrmann's stock in this centenary year is high, celebrated around the
world in performances of rarities like his 1951 opera, Wuthering Heights,
and suites of his familiar film scores. Yet scholarly work seems oddly
scant: Royal S. Brown's important interviews from the late 60s and early
70s, a scattering of articles, a few academic books from the 70s and 80s,
a meticulous harmonic analysis of Vertigo by David Cooper from 2001
(Greenwood Press), and a magnificent 1991 biography, A Heart at Fire's
Center, by Steven C. Smith (University of California Press).

Herrmann's cool, explosive sound has always seemed modern, and he was
always popular with the young, a fact misunderstood by the "complete
ignoramuses" (as he called them) he worked for during most of his career
and who were the object of his legendary tirades. When I teach my
Hitchcock course at Rider University, I'm always amazed how many students
know at least some of Herrmann's work. In March, when I gave a keynote
speech for "Partners in Suspense: Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann,"
a centenary conference in York, England, the usual suspects in the
scholarly community were there, but also a welcome crowd of young Herrmann
fanatics.

As a student at Juilliard and New York University, Herrmann studied with
Percy Grainger, from whom he inherited a hatred of pretension, a love for
unusual orchestration, and a fondness for daring harmony within a tonal
framework. Unlike classical composers who wrote film music as a necessary
sideshow to make money, Herrmann regarded his film, radio, and television
work as inseparable from his "classical" pieces; for him, these media were
essential for any 20th-century composer interested in reaching a real
audience. That academe and the classical-music community looked down on
film music was one of his greatest frustrations.

Herrmann's early career as a radio composer in the 1930s taught him to be
lean and economical. As chief conductor for CBS, he championed the work of
Charles Ives, Frederick Delius, and other iconoclasts whose
anti-establishment orneriness matched his own. From the beginning, he was
attracted to projects depicting lonely outsiders confronting tragic fates
and implacable forces of nature, from the convulsive 1938 cantata Moby
Dick to the Brontë sisters' works Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights (1943,
1951), to scores for Vertigo (1958) and Taxi Driver (1976).

Herrmann's breakthrough came from his partnership with Orson Welles,
another temperamental radical shunned by the establishment, whose Mercury
Theatre was leased by CBS. He teamed up with Welles in the notorious War
of the Worlds radio stunt in 1938, and Welles took him along when he
decided to make a movie in 1940--none other than Citizen Kane.

Welles had Herrmann at his side during shooting, shaping scenes to match
the music, and giving Hermann 12 weeks to complete the score--about twice
the norm. Kane carries Herrmann's lifelong signatures: a fanatical unity
based on the scantiest scraps, in this case a fragment of a medieval "Dies
Irae" chant sounded by glowering fanfares; and a fondness for spicy
chamber ensembles, especially low brass and shimmering percussion. For
Herrmann, color and timbre were all-important. Unlike most Hollywood
composers (John Williams being a notable exception), he orchestrated
everything himself and was contemptuous of those who hired arrangers.

The most radical aspect of Kane's music was its avoidance of swooning
Hollywood melody and its refusal to imitate what is on the screen. The
music comes from the inside, existing, as Herrmann put it, to "intensify
the inner thoughts of the characters.... It is the communicating link
between the screen and audience, reaching out and enveloping all into one
single experience." Herrmann's score, like Welles's deep-focus
photography, is a multilayered force that "envelops" the moviegoer, though
what it reveals is more intimate. The poignant "Rosebud" theme tells us
that underneath the imperious chorales depicting Kane's grandiosity is a
desperate, lonely soul. From the beginning, Herrmann could capture a
psyche with a few notes.

For Welles's next film, The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Herrmann
contributed delicate variations on a waltz by Émile Waldteufel. Written
for evanescent strings, chirping winds, and the sparkle of celestas and
glockenspiels, this wistful score is a requiem for a vanishing
preindustrial America, but it turned out to be one for the Herrmann-Welles
collaboration as well. Herrmann angrily stalked out of the screening room
when he saw the studio had cut his score (and Welles's images) in half,
demanding, with threat of a lawsuit, that his name be removed from the
credits, which it was. He never worked with Welles again. Though he had
many bitter run-ins with Hollywood brass, he told Martin Scorsese that
Ambersons was "the real heartbreaker" of his career.

Following the Ambersons debacle, Herrmann plunged headlong into his first
love, conducting, but during summers and vacations he gradually built up a
résumé of film music, much of it associated with the Gothic and the
fantastic: the 1945 Hangover Square, a Lisztian concerto macabre; the 1947
Ghost and Mrs. Muir, a subtle spook piece; the 1951 Day the Earth Stood
Still, which includes eerie electronic effects; the 1959 Journey to the
Center of the Earth, whose "Atlantis" sequence resonates with five organs;
and the Ray Harryhausen fantasies, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and
the Argonauts (1958, 1963), where conventional instruments produce such
otherworldly sonorities that electronic devices are beside the point.

Herrmann's biggest break came when his colleague Lyn Murray recommended
him to Alfred Hitchcock, and the two hit it off. Hitchcock considered
using Herrmann as early as 1945, but scheduling problems and producers'
concerns about Herrmann's temperament kept them apart. When Hitchcock
landed him in 1955, the timing was ideal. The lush idiom of Max Steiner
and Erich Korngold had peaked, making Herrmann's brooding asperity all the
more welcome. (On Broadway, a similar pattern unfolded, as Rodgers and
Hammerstein gave way to the bittersweet attenuations of Stephen Sondheim,
whose Sweeney Todd is an homage to Herrmann.)

Herrmann's dark eloquence and harmonic instability are indelibly
associated with Hitchcock's golden period. Their personalities were
dramatically opposite--Hitchcock imperious and controlling, Herrmann
notoriously moody. Yet the two shared an uncompromising professionalism, a
hatred of mediocrity, a black sense of humor, and a contempt for the
Hollywood establishment matched by a longing for its approval.

Herrmann was Hitchcock's secret sharer, a conjurer of energies more
explosive and dangerous than Hitchcock's cool sensibility easily
permitted. He pushed the Master's cinema ever deeper into a world of
anxiety and obsession. Even the delectable North by Northwest (1959) has
moments of longing and trauma one does not associate with comedy cues.

Hitchcock was equally good for Herrmann, giving him a cachet he had not
enjoyed since the Welles days and a rare stability for a maverick not
connected to a studio. Hitchcock and his secret sharer had, as Conrad
would call it, "a mysterious communication" that allowed each to tap into
the other. To The Trouble With Harry (1955), Herrmann brought sardonic wit
warmed by Elgarian lyricism. To The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), he
contributed malevolently spare chords as Hitchcock's camera tracks James
Stewart and Doris Day through empty streets and alleyways. In The Wrong
Man (1956), he produced a Latin jazz number with a corrosive
undertone--champagne poured over acid.

In Vertigo, their most important collaboration, Hitchcock invited Herrmann
onto the set before scenes were shot to discuss ideas and timing, a return
to the heady Kane days. From the moment Herrmann's waltz begins spiraling
in the main title, plunging the listener into the cinema's most elegant
nightmare, Scottie Ferguson's obsession becomes ours.

Vertigo was not exactly a box-office triumph. No one in 1958 wanted to see
Jimmy Stewart land in an asylum, and no one wanted to see Kim Novak, the
love of his life, plummet to her death--twice. Hitchcock yanked Vertigo
out of circulation, but Herrmann's music, enshrined on a spectacular
Mercury LP, kept the memory alive until the film was resurrected in the
1980s.

Psycho (1960), however, was an instant hit, and Hitchcock admitted that
much of its jolting terror came from Herrmann's music. The shrieking
dissonance of "The Murder" is the cinema's primal scream, deeply embedded
in our movie-going subconscious, instantly evoking Norman Bates's slashing
knife and Marion Crane's helpless cries. Even more haunting is the quiet
music, which invests the most ordinary images--a naked light bulb, a
suitcase on a bed--with dread. That Herrmann used only strings, normally a
Hollywood marker for schmaltzy romance, is even more disquieting.

Hitchcock originally wanted scant music in Psycho and repeatedly ordered
Herrmann not to write anything for the shower scene. Herrmann composed the
notorious cue in secret, then unveiled it to Hitchcock after a Christmas
break. Legend has it that Hitchcock--who feared Psycho was a dud and was
considering cutting it up for television--immediately reversed himself.
But the archives show that as late as January 31, the shower scene was
still to have no music. Hitchcock clearly had trouble letting go, though
by the end, he had relinquished quite a bit. Beginning with the least
music, Psycho ended up with more than in any Hitchcock film except
Vertigo. As Joseph Stefano, Psycho's screenwriter, said to me, "Bernie
took the picture and turned it into an opera."

Herrmann worried that Hitchcock resented his crucial role in the film's
success, and indeed, Psycho was the beginning of a tragic rift over issues
of authority and authorship. By the mid-60s, the rock 'n' roll age, the
studios regarded Herrmann as a grumpy throwback to an outmoded symphonic
era and producers pressured Hitchcock to fire him. Hitchcock warned
Herrmann that for Torn Curtain (1966), his superiors wanted a "60s beat."
Implacably independent as ever, Herrmann wrote a brassy, brutal symphonic
score (the best thing about Torn Curtain) that once again included a
harrowing cue for a central murder scene where Hitchcock specified no
music. Hitchcock appeared unannounced at the recording session and in
front of the orchestra angrily rejected Herrmann's score, a bruising
public humiliation. The greatest director-composer partnership in
Hollywood history was suddenly, shockingly over.

Ironically, Francois Truffaut, Brian De Palma, and Martin Scorsese--the
very representatives of the 60s generation that the studios were so eager
to appease--quickly snatched up Herrmann. Herrmann, it turned out, was
very much in tune with the times; it was corporate Hollywood that was out
of touch.

For Brian De Palma's 1973 shocker, Sisters, Herrmann used Moog
synthesizers and ferocious dissonance to unleash his greatest sonic
assault since Psycho. For Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451, a vision of the 21st
century from 1966, he went in the opposite direction, contributing what he
called a "simple nudity" not unlike what composers like Arvo Pärt strive
for today. When he asked Truffaut why he didn't hire an avant-gardist like
Karlheinz Stockhausen, Truffaut answered, "They'll give me music of the
20th century ... you'll give me music of the 21st."

Two of Herrmann's most haunting scores were written in 1975, the last year
of his life. For Obsession, De Palma's homage to Vertigo, Herrmann
conjured ghostly variations from his Hitchcock score (as he had done in
his 1967 "Souvenir de Voyage" for Clarinet Quintet), creating an aura of
intense longing and nostalgia. The main motif, a two-note suspension,
demonstrated again his ability to create a large poetic canvas from the
smallest materials. Pipe organ, brass, and strings produce magisterial
sonorities, but an ethereal chorus makes Obsession sound like music
overheard in a dream. This elegiac score clearly had a deep personal
meaning for Herrmann, who broke down in tears at the first screening.

Herrmann's finale, Taxi Driver, is dark even for him. This is another
Herrmann-haunted road movie; instead of Cary Grant racing across America
or Janet Leigh driving on a highway to nowhere, we get Robert DeNiro
cruising his taxi through Martin Scorsese's vision of a fantastically
ruined New York night town, powered by shattering brass and percussion and
a melancholy sax solo. As with Obsession, a two-note plunge is the
nucleus; an air of impending collapse hangs over the score. Alarmed by
Herrmann's heart condition, many colleagues and admirers, including a
young Steven Spielberg, came to Taxi Driver's recording session, which
turned out to be Herrmann's last: He died in his sleep Christmas Day after
putting the final touch on the piece, a shuddering reprise of the motif
that ends Moby Dick and Psycho. Martin Scorsese ended his film with a
dedication: "In gratitude and admiration to the memory of Bernard
Herrmann."

A centenary is a time to celebrate legacies, but Herrmann's is hard to
gauge. He was a great original who gave cinema a new sound, endlessly
plagiarized and resuscitated in everything from Psycho parodies (the
wittiest occurring in The Simpsons) to Quentin Tarantino's riff on Twisted
Nerve in Kill Bill (2003). When Scorcese and Gus Van Sant did their
(ill-considered) remakes of Cape Fear and Psycho (1991, 1998), they reused
Herrmann's music: What else could they do? When Douglas Gordon wanted to
represent "the sound of cinema" in his installation, Feature Film, he used
Vertigo.

Nonetheless, as the Herrmann biographer Steve Smith recently reminded me,
Herrmann was not a game changer in Hollywood. The scores of Hollywood's
best composers--John Williams, Danny Elfman, James Newton Howard--have
Herrmann touches, as does Michael Giacchino's gripping television music
for Lost. For the most part, however, Hollywood continues to recycle pop
tracks, techno music, pseudo-Korngold fanfares, and Carmina Burana
bombast--"by the yard," as Alex Ross recently put it.

One thing Herrmann did affect, perhaps permanently, was the status of film
music as an important form worthy of academic study. His radical break
from Hollywood bathos and his sheer professionalism caused movie fans and
scholars alike to regard film music with a new seriousness. Even neglected
masters like Franz Waxman and Miklos Rózsa have been lifted by the
Herrmann wave. Given the classical-music establishment's snobbish attitude
toward film music, that is no small achievement.

Jack Sullivan is a professor of English and director of American studies
at Rider University. His latest book is Hitchcock's Music (Yale University
Press, 2006).
Kerrison
2011-07-12 05:58:47 UTC
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CHE 57n42: Bernard Herrmann: Hollywood's Musical Poethttp://chronicle.com/article/Bernard-Herrmann-Hollywoods/128068/
Bernard Herrmann's singular career career in Hollywood helped make film
music an important subject of academic study.
Enlarge Image
By Jack Sullivan
Everyone who loves movies knows the music of Bernard Herrmann, whether
they realize it or not. The growling brass in Citizen Kane, the spiraling
arpeggios in Vertigo, the rocketing fandango in North by Northwest, the
sultry alto sax in Taxi Driver, the slashing strings in Psycho--these are
iconic sounds in modern cinema. Herrmann has a wide range, from the
silvery elegance of The Magnificent Ambersons to the blustery menace of
Mysterious Island, but his obsessive motifs, floating modal chords, and
sudden bursts of longing are instantly recognizable. Listen to the
plummeting brass in Cape Fear or the glassy strings in the original
Twilight Zone theme: They don't resolve, don't provide closure, and don't
really go anywhere; they just lodge in our imaginations, haunting us long
after the screen goes dark.
Herrmann's stock in this centenary year is high, celebrated around the
world in performances of rarities like his 1951 opera, Wuthering Heights,
and suites of his familiar film scores. Yet scholarly work seems oddly
scant: Royal S. Brown's important interviews from the late 60s and early
70s, a scattering of articles, a few academic books from the 70s and 80s,
a meticulous harmonic analysis of Vertigo by David Cooper from 2001
(Greenwood Press), and a magnificent 1991 biography, A Heart at Fire's
Center, by Steven C. Smith (University of California Press).
Herrmann's cool, explosive sound has always seemed modern, and he was
always popular with the young, a fact misunderstood by the "complete
ignoramuses" (as he called them) he worked for during most of his career
and who were the object of his legendary tirades. When I teach my
Hitchcock course at Rider University, I'm always amazed how many students
know at least some of Herrmann's work. In March, when I gave a keynote
speech for "Partners in Suspense: Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann,"
a centenary conference in York, England, the usual suspects in the
scholarly community were there, but also a welcome crowd of young Herrmann
fanatics.
As a student at Juilliard and New York University, Herrmann studied with
Percy Grainger, from whom he inherited a hatred of pretension, a love for
unusual orchestration, and a fondness for daring harmony within a tonal
framework. Unlike classical composers who wrote film music as a necessary
sideshow to make money, Herrmann regarded his film, radio, and television
work as inseparable from his "classical" pieces; for him, these media were
essential for any 20th-century composer interested in reaching a real
audience. That academe and the classical-music community looked down on
film music was one of his greatest frustrations.
Herrmann's early career as a radio composer in the 1930s taught him to be
lean and economical. As chief conductor for CBS, he championed the work of
Charles Ives, Frederick Delius, and other iconoclasts whose
anti-establishment orneriness matched his own. From the beginning, he was
attracted to projects depicting lonely outsiders confronting tragic fates
and implacable forces of nature, from the convulsive 1938 cantata Moby
Dick to the Brontë sisters' works Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights (1943,
1951), to scores for Vertigo (1958) and Taxi Driver (1976).
Herrmann's breakthrough came from his partnership with Orson Welles,
another temperamental radical shunned by the establishment, whose Mercury
Theatre was leased by CBS. He teamed up with Welles in the notorious War
of the Worlds radio stunt in 1938, and Welles took him along when he
decided to make a movie in 1940--none other than Citizen Kane.
Welles had Herrmann at his side during shooting, shaping scenes to match
the music, and giving Hermann 12 weeks to complete the score--about twice
the norm. Kane carries Herrmann's lifelong signatures: a fanatical unity
based on the scantiest scraps, in this case a fragment of a medieval "Dies
Irae" chant sounded by glowering fanfares; and a fondness for spicy
chamber ensembles, especially low brass and shimmering percussion. For
Herrmann, color and timbre were all-important. Unlike most Hollywood
composers (John Williams being a notable exception), he orchestrated
everything himself and was contemptuous of those who hired arrangers.
The most radical aspect of Kane's music was its avoidance of swooning
Hollywood melody and its refusal to imitate what is on the screen. The
music comes from the inside, existing, as Herrmann put it, to "intensify
the inner thoughts of the characters.... It is the communicating link
between the screen and audience, reaching out and enveloping all into one
single experience." Herrmann's score, like Welles's deep-focus
photography, is a multilayered force that "envelops" the moviegoer, though
what it reveals is more intimate. The poignant "Rosebud" theme tells us
that underneath the imperious chorales depicting Kane's grandiosity is a
desperate, lonely soul. From the beginning, Herrmann could capture a
psyche with a few notes.
For Welles's next film, The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Herrmann
contributed delicate variations on a waltz by Émile Waldteufel. Written
for evanescent strings, chirping winds, and the sparkle of celestas and
glockenspiels, this wistful score is a requiem for a vanishing
preindustrial America, but it turned out to be one for the Herrmann-Welles
collaboration as well. Herrmann angrily stalked out of the screening room
when he saw the studio had cut his score (and Welles's images) in half,
demanding, with threat of a lawsuit, that his name be removed from the
credits, which it was. He never worked with Welles again. Though he had
many bitter run-ins with Hollywood brass, he told Martin Scorsese that
Ambersons was "the real heartbreaker" of his career.
Following the Ambersons debacle, Herrmann plunged headlong into his first
love, conducting, but during summers and vacations he gradually built up a
résumé of film music, much of it associated with the Gothic and the
fantastic: the 1945 Hangover Square, a Lisztian concerto macabre; the 1947
Ghost and Mrs. Muir, a subtle spook piece; the 1951 Day the Earth Stood
Still, which includes eerie electronic effects; the 1959 Journey to the
Center of the Earth, whose "Atlantis" sequence resonates with five organs;
and the Ray Harryhausen fantasies, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and
the Argonauts (1958, 1963), where conventional instruments produce such
otherworldly sonorities that electronic devices are beside the point.
Herrmann's biggest break came when his colleague Lyn Murray recommended
him to Alfred Hitchcock, and the two hit it off. Hitchcock considered
using Herrmann as early as 1945, but scheduling problems and producers'
concerns about Herrmann's temperament kept them apart. When Hitchcock
landed him in 1955, the timing was ideal. The lush idiom of Max Steiner
and Erich Korngold had peaked, making Herrmann's brooding asperity all the
more welcome. (On Broadway, a similar pattern unfolded, as Rodgers and
Hammerstein gave way to the bittersweet attenuations of Stephen Sondheim,
whose Sweeney Todd is an homage to Herrmann.)
Herrmann's dark eloquence and harmonic instability are indelibly
associated with Hitchcock's golden period. Their personalities were
dramatically opposite--Hitchcock imperious and controlling, Herrmann
notoriously moody. Yet the two shared an uncompromising professionalism, a
hatred of mediocrity, a black sense of humor, and a contempt for the
Hollywood establishment matched by a longing for its approval.
Herrmann was Hitchcock's secret sharer, a conjurer of energies more
explosive and dangerous than Hitchcock's cool sensibility easily
permitted. He pushed the Master's cinema ever deeper into a world of
anxiety and obsession. Even the delectable North by Northwest (1959) has
moments of longing and trauma one does not associate with comedy cues.
Hitchcock was equally good for Herrmann, giving him a cachet he had not
enjoyed since the Welles days and a rare stability for a maverick not
connected to a studio. Hitchcock and his secret sharer had, as Conrad
would call it, "a mysterious communication" that allowed each to tap into
the other. To The Trouble With Harry (1955), Herrmann brought sardonic wit
warmed by Elgarian lyricism. To The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), he
contributed malevolently spare chords as Hitchcock's camera tracks James
Stewart and Doris Day through empty streets and alleyways. In The Wrong
Man (1956), he produced a Latin jazz number with a corrosive
undertone--champagne poured over acid.
In Vertigo, their most important collaboration, Hitchcock invited Herrmann
onto the set before scenes were shot to discuss ideas and timing, a return
to the heady Kane days. From the moment Herrmann's waltz begins spiraling
in the main title, plunging the listener into the cinema's most elegant
nightmare, Scottie Ferguson's obsession becomes ours.
Vertigo was not exactly a box-office triumph. No one in 1958 wanted to see
Jimmy Stewart land in an asylum, and no one wanted to see Kim Novak, the
love of his life, plummet to her death--twice. Hitchcock yanked Vertigo
out of circulation, but Herrmann's music, enshrined on a spectacular
Mercury LP, kept the memory alive until the film was resurrected in the
1980s.
Psycho (1960), however, was an instant hit, and Hitchcock admitted that
much of its jolting terror came from Herrmann's music. The shrieking
dissonance of "The Murder" is the cinema's primal scream, deeply embedded
in our movie-going subconscious, instantly evoking Norman Bates's slashing
knife and Marion Crane's helpless cries. Even more haunting is the quiet
music, which invests the most ordinary images--a naked light bulb, a
suitcase on a bed--with dread. That Herrmann used only strings, normally a
Hollywood marker for schmaltzy romance, is even more disquieting.
Hitchcock originally wanted scant music in Psycho and repeatedly ordered
Herrmann not to write anything for the shower scene. Herrmann composed the
notorious cue in secret, then unveiled it to Hitchcock after a Christmas
break. Legend has it that Hitchcock--who feared Psycho was a dud and was
considering cutting it up for television--immediately reversed himself.
But the archives show that as late as January 31, the shower scene was
still to have no music. Hitchcock clearly had trouble letting go, though
by the end, he had relinquished quite a bit. Beginning with the least
music, Psycho ended up with more than in any Hitchcock film except
Vertigo. As Joseph Stefano, Psycho's screenwriter, said to me, "Bernie
took the picture and turned it into an opera."
Herrmann worried that Hitchcock resented his crucial role in the film's
success, and indeed, Psycho was the beginning of a tragic rift over issues
of authority and authorship. By the mid-60s, the rock 'n' roll age, the
studios regarded Herrmann as a grumpy throwback to an outmoded symphonic
era and producers pressured Hitchcock to fire him. Hitchcock warned
Herrmann that for Torn Curtain (1966), his superiors wanted a "60s beat."
Implacably independent as ever, Herrmann wrote a brassy, brutal symphonic
score (the best thing about Torn Curtain) that once again included a
harrowing cue for a central murder scene where Hitchcock specified no
music. Hitchcock appeared unannounced at the recording session and in
front of the orchestra angrily rejected Herrmann's score, a bruising
public humiliation. The greatest director-composer partnership in
Hollywood history was suddenly, shockingly over.
Ironically, Francois Truffaut, Brian De Palma, and Martin Scorsese--the
very representatives of the 60s generation that the studios were so eager
to appease--quickly snatched up Herrmann. Herrmann, it turned out, was
very much in tune with the times; it was corporate Hollywood that was out
of touch.
For Brian De Palma's 1973 shocker, Sisters, Herrmann used Moog
synthesizers and ferocious dissonance to unleash his greatest sonic
assault since Psycho. For Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451, a vision of the 21st
century from 1966, he went in the opposite direction, contributing what he
called a "simple nudity" not unlike what composers like Arvo Pärt strive
for today. When he asked Truffaut why he didn't hire an avant-gardist like
Karlheinz Stockhausen, Truffaut answered, "They'll give me music of the
20th century ... you'll give me music of the 21st."
Two of Herrmann's most haunting scores were written in 1975, the last year
of his life. For Obsession, De Palma's homage to Vertigo, Herrmann
conjured ghostly variations from his Hitchcock score (as he had done in
his 1967 "Souvenir de Voyage" for Clarinet Quintet), creating an aura of
intense longing and nostalgia. The main motif, a two-note suspension,
demonstrated again his ability to create a large poetic canvas from the
smallest materials. Pipe organ, brass, and strings produce magisterial
sonorities, but an ethereal chorus makes Obsession sound like music
overheard in a dream. This elegiac score clearly had a deep personal
meaning for Herrmann, who broke down in tears at the first screening.
Herrmann's finale, Taxi Driver, is dark even for him. This is another
Herrmann-haunted road movie; instead of Cary Grant racing across America
or Janet Leigh driving on a highway to nowhere, we get Robert DeNiro
cruising his taxi through Martin Scorsese's vision of a fantastically
ruined New York night town, powered by shattering brass and percussion and
a melancholy sax solo. As with Obsession, a two-note plunge is the
nucleus; an air of impending collapse hangs over the score. Alarmed by
Herrmann's heart condition, many colleagues and admirers, including a
young Steven Spielberg, came to Taxi Driver's recording session, which
turned out to be Herrmann's last: He died in his sleep Christmas Day after
putting the final touch on the piece, a shuddering reprise of the motif
that ends Moby Dick and Psycho. Martin Scorsese ended his film with a
dedication: "In gratitude and admiration to the memory of Bernard
Herrmann."
A centenary is a time to celebrate legacies, but Herrmann's is hard to
gauge. He was a great original who gave cinema a new sound, endlessly
plagiarized and resuscitated in everything from Psycho parodies (the
wittiest occurring in The Simpsons) to Quentin Tarantino's riff on Twisted
Nerve in Kill Bill (2003). When Scorcese and Gus Van Sant did their
(ill-considered) remakes of Cape Fear and Psycho (1991, 1998), they reused
Herrmann's music: What else could they do? When Douglas Gordon wanted to
represent "the sound of cinema" in his installation, Feature Film, he used
Vertigo.
Nonetheless, as the Herrmann biographer Steve Smith recently reminded me,
Herrmann was not a game changer in Hollywood. The scores of Hollywood's
best composers--John Williams, Danny Elfman, James Newton Howard--have
Herrmann touches, as does Michael Giacchino's gripping television music
for Lost. For the most part, however, Hollywood continues to recycle pop
tracks, techno music, pseudo-Korngold fanfares, and Carmina Burana
bombast--"by the yard," as Alex Ross recently put it.
One thing Herrmann did affect, perhaps permanently, was the status of film
music as an important form worthy of academic study. His radical break
from Hollywood bathos and his sheer professionalism caused movie fans and
scholars alike to regard film music with a new seriousness. Even neglected
masters like Franz Waxman and Miklos Rózsa have been lifted by the
Herrmann wave. Given the classical-music establishment's snobbish attitude
toward film music, that is no small achievement.
Jack Sullivan is a professor of English and director of American studies
at Rider University. His latest book is Hitchcock's Music (Yale University
Press, 2006).
Plenty more about Herrmann in the BH Society website ...

http://www.bernardherrmann.org/
g***@gmail.com
2015-01-02 20:44:49 UTC
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Post by Premise Checker
CHE 57n42: Bernard Herrmann: Hollywood's Musical Poet
http://chronicle.com/article/Bernard-Herrmann-Hollywoods/128068/
Bernard Herrmann's singular career career in Hollywood helped make film
music an important subject of academic study.
Enlarge Image
By Jack Sullivan
Everyone who loves movies knows the music of Bernard Herrmann, whether
they realize it or not. The growling brass in Citizen Kane, the spiraling
arpeggios in Vertigo, the rocketing fandango in North by Northwest, the
sultry alto sax in Taxi Driver, the slashing strings in Psycho--these are
iconic sounds in modern cinema. Herrmann has a wide range, from the
silvery elegance of The Magnificent Ambersons to the blustery menace of
Mysterious Island, but his obsessive motifs, floating modal chords, and
sudden bursts of longing are instantly recognizable. Listen to the
plummeting brass in Cape Fear or the glassy strings in the original
Twilight Zone theme: They don't resolve, don't provide closure, and don't
really go anywhere; they just lodge in our imaginations, haunting us long
after the screen goes dark.
Herrmann's stock in this centenary year is high, celebrated around the
world in performances of rarities like his 1951 opera, Wuthering Heights,
and suites of his familiar film scores. Yet scholarly work seems oddly
scant: Royal S. Brown's important interviews from the late 60s and early
70s, a scattering of articles, a few academic books from the 70s and 80s,
a meticulous harmonic analysis of Vertigo by David Cooper from 2001
(Greenwood Press), and a magnificent 1991 biography, A Heart at Fire's
Center, by Steven C. Smith (University of California Press).
Herrmann's cool, explosive sound has always seemed modern, and he was
always popular with the young, a fact misunderstood by the "complete
ignoramuses" (as he called them) he worked for during most of his career
and who were the object of his legendary tirades. When I teach my
Hitchcock course at Rider University, I'm always amazed how many students
know at least some of Herrmann's work. In March, when I gave a keynote
speech for "Partners in Suspense: Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann,"
a centenary conference in York, England, the usual suspects in the
scholarly community were there, but also a welcome crowd of young Herrmann
fanatics.
As a student at Juilliard and New York University, Herrmann studied with
Percy Grainger, from whom he inherited a hatred of pretension, a love for
unusual orchestration, and a fondness for daring harmony within a tonal
framework. Unlike classical composers who wrote film music as a necessary
sideshow to make money, Herrmann regarded his film, radio, and television
work as inseparable from his "classical" pieces; for him, these media were
essential for any 20th-century composer interested in reaching a real
audience. That academe and the classical-music community looked down on
film music was one of his greatest frustrations.
Herrmann's early career as a radio composer in the 1930s taught him to be
lean and economical. As chief conductor for CBS, he championed the work of
Charles Ives, Frederick Delius, and other iconoclasts whose
anti-establishment orneriness matched his own. From the beginning, he was
attracted to projects depicting lonely outsiders confronting tragic fates
and implacable forces of nature, from the convulsive 1938 cantata Moby
Dick to the Brontë sisters' works Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights (1943,
1951), to scores for Vertigo (1958) and Taxi Driver (1976).
Herrmann's breakthrough came from his partnership with Orson Welles,
another temperamental radical shunned by the establishment, whose Mercury
Theatre was leased by CBS. He teamed up with Welles in the notorious War
of the Worlds radio stunt in 1938, and Welles took him along when he
decided to make a movie in 1940--none other than Citizen Kane.
Welles had Herrmann at his side during shooting, shaping scenes to match
the music, and giving Hermann 12 weeks to complete the score--about twice
the norm. Kane carries Herrmann's lifelong signatures: a fanatical unity
based on the scantiest scraps, in this case a fragment of a medieval "Dies
Irae" chant sounded by glowering fanfares; and a fondness for spicy
chamber ensembles, especially low brass and shimmering percussion. For
Herrmann, color and timbre were all-important. Unlike most Hollywood
composers (John Williams being a notable exception), he orchestrated
everything himself and was contemptuous of those who hired arrangers.
The most radical aspect of Kane's music was its avoidance of swooning
Hollywood melody and its refusal to imitate what is on the screen. The
music comes from the inside, existing, as Herrmann put it, to "intensify
the inner thoughts of the characters.... It is the communicating link
between the screen and audience, reaching out and enveloping all into one
single experience." Herrmann's score, like Welles's deep-focus
photography, is a multilayered force that "envelops" the moviegoer, though
what it reveals is more intimate. The poignant "Rosebud" theme tells us
that underneath the imperious chorales depicting Kane's grandiosity is a
desperate, lonely soul. From the beginning, Herrmann could capture a
psyche with a few notes.
For Welles's next film, The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Herrmann
contributed delicate variations on a waltz by Émile Waldteufel. Written
for evanescent strings, chirping winds, and the sparkle of celestas and
glockenspiels, this wistful score is a requiem for a vanishing
preindustrial America, but it turned out to be one for the Herrmann-Welles
collaboration as well. Herrmann angrily stalked out of the screening room
when he saw the studio had cut his score (and Welles's images) in half,
demanding, with threat of a lawsuit, that his name be removed from the
credits, which it was. He never worked with Welles again. Though he had
many bitter run-ins with Hollywood brass, he told Martin Scorsese that
Ambersons was "the real heartbreaker" of his career.
Following the Ambersons debacle, Herrmann plunged headlong into his first
love, conducting, but during summers and vacations he gradually built up a
résumé of film music, much of it associated with the Gothic and the
fantastic: the 1945 Hangover Square, a Lisztian concerto macabre; the 1947
Ghost and Mrs. Muir, a subtle spook piece; the 1951 Day the Earth Stood
Still, which includes eerie electronic effects; the 1959 Journey to the
Center of the Earth, whose "Atlantis" sequence resonates with five organs;
and the Ray Harryhausen fantasies, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and
the Argonauts (1958, 1963), where conventional instruments produce such
otherworldly sonorities that electronic devices are beside the point.
Herrmann's biggest break came when his colleague Lyn Murray recommended
him to Alfred Hitchcock, and the two hit it off. Hitchcock considered
using Herrmann as early as 1945, but scheduling problems and producers'
concerns about Herrmann's temperament kept them apart. When Hitchcock
landed him in 1955, the timing was ideal. The lush idiom of Max Steiner
and Erich Korngold had peaked, making Herrmann's brooding asperity all the
more welcome. (On Broadway, a similar pattern unfolded, as Rodgers and
Hammerstein gave way to the bittersweet attenuations of Stephen Sondheim,
whose Sweeney Todd is an homage to Herrmann.)
Herrmann's dark eloquence and harmonic instability are indelibly
associated with Hitchcock's golden period. Their personalities were
dramatically opposite--Hitchcock imperious and controlling, Herrmann
notoriously moody. Yet the two shared an uncompromising professionalism, a
hatred of mediocrity, a black sense of humor, and a contempt for the
Hollywood establishment matched by a longing for its approval.
Herrmann was Hitchcock's secret sharer, a conjurer of energies more
explosive and dangerous than Hitchcock's cool sensibility easily
permitted. He pushed the Master's cinema ever deeper into a world of
anxiety and obsession. Even the delectable North by Northwest (1959) has
moments of longing and trauma one does not associate with comedy cues.
Hitchcock was equally good for Herrmann, giving him a cachet he had not
enjoyed since the Welles days and a rare stability for a maverick not
connected to a studio. Hitchcock and his secret sharer had, as Conrad
would call it, "a mysterious communication" that allowed each to tap into
the other. To The Trouble With Harry (1955), Herrmann brought sardonic wit
warmed by Elgarian lyricism. To The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), he
contributed malevolently spare chords as Hitchcock's camera tracks James
Stewart and Doris Day through empty streets and alleyways. In The Wrong
Man (1956), he produced a Latin jazz number with a corrosive
undertone--champagne poured over acid.
In Vertigo, their most important collaboration, Hitchcock invited Herrmann
onto the set before scenes were shot to discuss ideas and timing, a return
to the heady Kane days. From the moment Herrmann's waltz begins spiraling
in the main title, plunging the listener into the cinema's most elegant
nightmare, Scottie Ferguson's obsession becomes ours.
Vertigo was not exactly a box-office triumph. No one in 1958 wanted to see
Jimmy Stewart land in an asylum, and no one wanted to see Kim Novak, the
love of his life, plummet to her death--twice. Hitchcock yanked Vertigo
out of circulation, but Herrmann's music, enshrined on a spectacular
Mercury LP, kept the memory alive until the film was resurrected in the
1980s.
Psycho (1960), however, was an instant hit, and Hitchcock admitted that
much of its jolting terror came from Herrmann's music. The shrieking
dissonance of "The Murder" is the cinema's primal scream, deeply embedded
in our movie-going subconscious, instantly evoking Norman Bates's slashing
knife and Marion Crane's helpless cries. Even more haunting is the quiet
music, which invests the most ordinary images--a naked light bulb, a
suitcase on a bed--with dread. That Herrmann used only strings, normally a
Hollywood marker for schmaltzy romance, is even more disquieting.
Hitchcock originally wanted scant music in Psycho and repeatedly ordered
Herrmann not to write anything for the shower scene. Herrmann composed the
notorious cue in secret, then unveiled it to Hitchcock after a Christmas
break. Legend has it that Hitchcock--who feared Psycho was a dud and was
considering cutting it up for television--immediately reversed himself.
But the archives show that as late as January 31, the shower scene was
still to have no music. Hitchcock clearly had trouble letting go, though
by the end, he had relinquished quite a bit. Beginning with the least
music, Psycho ended up with more than in any Hitchcock film except
Vertigo. As Joseph Stefano, Psycho's screenwriter, said to me, "Bernie
took the picture and turned it into an opera."
Herrmann worried that Hitchcock resented his crucial role in the film's
success, and indeed, Psycho was the beginning of a tragic rift over issues
of authority and authorship. By the mid-60s, the rock 'n' roll age, the
studios regarded Herrmann as a grumpy throwback to an outmoded symphonic
era and producers pressured Hitchcock to fire him. Hitchcock warned
Herrmann that for Torn Curtain (1966), his superiors wanted a "60s beat."
Implacably independent as ever, Herrmann wrote a brassy, brutal symphonic
score (the best thing about Torn Curtain) that once again included a
harrowing cue for a central murder scene where Hitchcock specified no
music. Hitchcock appeared unannounced at the recording session and in
front of the orchestra angrily rejected Herrmann's score, a bruising
public humiliation. The greatest director-composer partnership in
Hollywood history was suddenly, shockingly over.
Ironically, Francois Truffaut, Brian De Palma, and Martin Scorsese--the
very representatives of the 60s generation that the studios were so eager
to appease--quickly snatched up Herrmann. Herrmann, it turned out, was
very much in tune with the times; it was corporate Hollywood that was out
of touch.
For Brian De Palma's 1973 shocker, Sisters, Herrmann used Moog
synthesizers and ferocious dissonance to unleash his greatest sonic
assault since Psycho. For Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451, a vision of the 21st
century from 1966, he went in the opposite direction, contributing what he
called a "simple nudity" not unlike what composers like Arvo Pärt strive
for today. When he asked Truffaut why he didn't hire an avant-gardist like
Karlheinz Stockhausen, Truffaut answered, "They'll give me music of the
20th century ... you'll give me music of the 21st."
Two of Herrmann's most haunting scores were written in 1975, the last year
of his life. For Obsession, De Palma's homage to Vertigo, Herrmann
conjured ghostly variations from his Hitchcock score (as he had done in
his 1967 "Souvenir de Voyage" for Clarinet Quintet), creating an aura of
intense longing and nostalgia. The main motif, a two-note suspension,
demonstrated again his ability to create a large poetic canvas from the
smallest materials. Pipe organ, brass, and strings produce magisterial
sonorities, but an ethereal chorus makes Obsession sound like music
overheard in a dream. This elegiac score clearly had a deep personal
meaning for Herrmann, who broke down in tears at the first screening.
Herrmann's finale, Taxi Driver, is dark even for him. This is another
Herrmann-haunted road movie; instead of Cary Grant racing across America
or Janet Leigh driving on a highway to nowhere, we get Robert DeNiro
cruising his taxi through Martin Scorsese's vision of a fantastically
ruined New York night town, powered by shattering brass and percussion and
a melancholy sax solo. As with Obsession, a two-note plunge is the
nucleus; an air of impending collapse hangs over the score. Alarmed by
Herrmann's heart condition, many colleagues and admirers, including a
young Steven Spielberg, came to Taxi Driver's recording session, which
turned out to be Herrmann's last: He died in his sleep Christmas Day after
putting the final touch on the piece, a shuddering reprise of the motif
that ends Moby Dick and Psycho. Martin Scorsese ended his film with a
dedication: "In gratitude and admiration to the memory of Bernard
Herrmann."
A centenary is a time to celebrate legacies, but Herrmann's is hard to
gauge. He was a great original who gave cinema a new sound, endlessly
plagiarized and resuscitated in everything from Psycho parodies (the
wittiest occurring in The Simpsons) to Quentin Tarantino's riff on Twisted
Nerve in Kill Bill (2003). When Scorcese and Gus Van Sant did their
(ill-considered) remakes of Cape Fear and Psycho (1991, 1998), they reused
Herrmann's music: What else could they do? When Douglas Gordon wanted to
represent "the sound of cinema" in his installation, Feature Film, he used
Vertigo.
Nonetheless, as the Herrmann biographer Steve Smith recently reminded me,
Herrmann was not a game changer in Hollywood. The scores of Hollywood's
best composers--John Williams, Danny Elfman, James Newton Howard--have
Herrmann touches, as does Michael Giacchino's gripping television music
for Lost. For the most part, however, Hollywood continues to recycle pop
tracks, techno music, pseudo-Korngold fanfares, and Carmina Burana
bombast--"by the yard," as Alex Ross recently put it.
One thing Herrmann did affect, perhaps permanently, was the status of film
music as an important form worthy of academic study. His radical break
from Hollywood bathos and his sheer professionalism caused movie fans and
scholars alike to regard film music with a new seriousness. Even neglected
masters like Franz Waxman and Miklos Rózsa have been lifted by the
Herrmann wave. Given the classical-music establishment's snobbish attitude
toward film music, that is no small achievement.
Jack Sullivan is a professor of English and director of American studies
at Rider University. His latest book is Hitchcock's Music (Yale University
Press, 2006).
2014 Recording featuring B.H.'s music (after clicking on link below, scroll down to Hitchcock item):

http://www.filmmusicsociety.org/news_events/features/2014/122914.html
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2015-01-03 06:52:12 UTC
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Post by g***@gmail.com
Post by Premise Checker
CHE 57n42: Bernard Herrmann: Hollywood's Musical Poet
http://chronicle.com/article/Bernard-Herrmann-Hollywoods/128068/
Bernard Herrmann's singular career career in Hollywood helped make film
music an important subject of academic study.
Enlarge Image
By Jack Sullivan
Everyone who loves movies knows the music of Bernard Herrmann, whether
they realize it or not. The growling brass in Citizen Kane, the spiraling
arpeggios in Vertigo, the rocketing fandango in North by Northwest, the
sultry alto sax in Taxi Driver, the slashing strings in Psycho--these are
iconic sounds in modern cinema. Herrmann has a wide range, from the
silvery elegance of The Magnificent Ambersons to the blustery menace of
Mysterious Island, but his obsessive motifs, floating modal chords, and
sudden bursts of longing are instantly recognizable. Listen to the
plummeting brass in Cape Fear or the glassy strings in the original
Twilight Zone theme: They don't resolve, don't provide closure, and don't
really go anywhere; they just lodge in our imaginations, haunting us long
after the screen goes dark.
Herrmann's stock in this centenary year is high, celebrated around the
world in performances of rarities like his 1951 opera, Wuthering Heights,
and suites of his familiar film scores. Yet scholarly work seems oddly
scant: Royal S. Brown's important interviews from the late 60s and early
70s, a scattering of articles, a few academic books from the 70s and 80s,
a meticulous harmonic analysis of Vertigo by David Cooper from 2001
(Greenwood Press), and a magnificent 1991 biography, A Heart at Fire's
Center, by Steven C. Smith (University of California Press).
Herrmann's cool, explosive sound has always seemed modern, and he was
always popular with the young, a fact misunderstood by the "complete
ignoramuses" (as he called them) he worked for during most of his career
and who were the object of his legendary tirades. When I teach my
Hitchcock course at Rider University, I'm always amazed how many students
know at least some of Herrmann's work. In March, when I gave a keynote
speech for "Partners in Suspense: Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann,"
a centenary conference in York, England, the usual suspects in the
scholarly community were there, but also a welcome crowd of young Herrmann
fanatics.
As a student at Juilliard and New York University, Herrmann studied with
Percy Grainger, from whom he inherited a hatred of pretension, a love for
unusual orchestration, and a fondness for daring harmony within a tonal
framework. Unlike classical composers who wrote film music as a necessary
sideshow to make money, Herrmann regarded his film, radio, and television
work as inseparable from his "classical" pieces; for him, these media were
essential for any 20th-century composer interested in reaching a real
audience. That academe and the classical-music community looked down on
film music was one of his greatest frustrations.
Herrmann's early career as a radio composer in the 1930s taught him to be
lean and economical. As chief conductor for CBS, he championed the work of
Charles Ives, Frederick Delius, and other iconoclasts whose
anti-establishment orneriness matched his own. From the beginning, he was
attracted to projects depicting lonely outsiders confronting tragic fates
and implacable forces of nature, from the convulsive 1938 cantata Moby
Dick to the Brontë sisters' works Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights (1943,
1951), to scores for Vertigo (1958) and Taxi Driver (1976).
Herrmann's breakthrough came from his partnership with Orson Welles,
another temperamental radical shunned by the establishment, whose Mercury
Theatre was leased by CBS. He teamed up with Welles in the notorious War
of the Worlds radio stunt in 1938, and Welles took him along when he
decided to make a movie in 1940--none other than Citizen Kane.
Welles had Herrmann at his side during shooting, shaping scenes to match
the music, and giving Hermann 12 weeks to complete the score--about twice
the norm. Kane carries Herrmann's lifelong signatures: a fanatical unity
based on the scantiest scraps, in this case a fragment of a medieval "Dies
Irae" chant sounded by glowering fanfares; and a fondness for spicy
chamber ensembles, especially low brass and shimmering percussion. For
Herrmann, color and timbre were all-important. Unlike most Hollywood
composers (John Williams being a notable exception), he orchestrated
everything himself and was contemptuous of those who hired arrangers.
The most radical aspect of Kane's music was its avoidance of swooning
Hollywood melody and its refusal to imitate what is on the screen. The
music comes from the inside, existing, as Herrmann put it, to "intensify
the inner thoughts of the characters.... It is the communicating link
between the screen and audience, reaching out and enveloping all into one
single experience." Herrmann's score, like Welles's deep-focus
photography, is a multilayered force that "envelops" the moviegoer, though
what it reveals is more intimate. The poignant "Rosebud" theme tells us
that underneath the imperious chorales depicting Kane's grandiosity is a
desperate, lonely soul. From the beginning, Herrmann could capture a
psyche with a few notes.
For Welles's next film, The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Herrmann
contributed delicate variations on a waltz by Émile Waldteufel. Written
for evanescent strings, chirping winds, and the sparkle of celestas and
glockenspiels, this wistful score is a requiem for a vanishing
preindustrial America, but it turned out to be one for the Herrmann-Welles
collaboration as well. Herrmann angrily stalked out of the screening room
when he saw the studio had cut his score (and Welles's images) in half,
demanding, with threat of a lawsuit, that his name be removed from the
credits, which it was. He never worked with Welles again. Though he had
many bitter run-ins with Hollywood brass, he told Martin Scorsese that
Ambersons was "the real heartbreaker" of his career.
Following the Ambersons debacle, Herrmann plunged headlong into his first
love, conducting, but during summers and vacations he gradually built up a
résumé of film music, much of it associated with the Gothic and the
fantastic: the 1945 Hangover Square, a Lisztian concerto macabre; the 1947
Ghost and Mrs. Muir, a subtle spook piece; the 1951 Day the Earth Stood
Still, which includes eerie electronic effects; the 1959 Journey to the
Center of the Earth, whose "Atlantis" sequence resonates with five organs;
and the Ray Harryhausen fantasies, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and
the Argonauts (1958, 1963), where conventional instruments produce such
otherworldly sonorities that electronic devices are beside the point.
Herrmann's biggest break came when his colleague Lyn Murray recommended
him to Alfred Hitchcock, and the two hit it off. Hitchcock considered
using Herrmann as early as 1945, but scheduling problems and producers'
concerns about Herrmann's temperament kept them apart. When Hitchcock
landed him in 1955, the timing was ideal. The lush idiom of Max Steiner
and Erich Korngold had peaked, making Herrmann's brooding asperity all the
more welcome. (On Broadway, a similar pattern unfolded, as Rodgers and
Hammerstein gave way to the bittersweet attenuations of Stephen Sondheim,
whose Sweeney Todd is an homage to Herrmann.)
Herrmann's dark eloquence and harmonic instability are indelibly
associated with Hitchcock's golden period. Their personalities were
dramatically opposite--Hitchcock imperious and controlling, Herrmann
notoriously moody. Yet the two shared an uncompromising professionalism, a
hatred of mediocrity, a black sense of humor, and a contempt for the
Hollywood establishment matched by a longing for its approval.
Herrmann was Hitchcock's secret sharer, a conjurer of energies more
explosive and dangerous than Hitchcock's cool sensibility easily
permitted. He pushed the Master's cinema ever deeper into a world of
anxiety and obsession. Even the delectable North by Northwest (1959) has
moments of longing and trauma one does not associate with comedy cues.
Hitchcock was equally good for Herrmann, giving him a cachet he had not
enjoyed since the Welles days and a rare stability for a maverick not
connected to a studio. Hitchcock and his secret sharer had, as Conrad
would call it, "a mysterious communication" that allowed each to tap into
the other. To The Trouble With Harry (1955), Herrmann brought sardonic wit
warmed by Elgarian lyricism. To The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), he
contributed malevolently spare chords as Hitchcock's camera tracks James
Stewart and Doris Day through empty streets and alleyways. In The Wrong
Man (1956), he produced a Latin jazz number with a corrosive
undertone--champagne poured over acid.
In Vertigo, their most important collaboration, Hitchcock invited Herrmann
onto the set before scenes were shot to discuss ideas and timing, a return
to the heady Kane days. From the moment Herrmann's waltz begins spiraling
in the main title, plunging the listener into the cinema's most elegant
nightmare, Scottie Ferguson's obsession becomes ours.
Vertigo was not exactly a box-office triumph. No one in 1958 wanted to see
Jimmy Stewart land in an asylum, and no one wanted to see Kim Novak, the
love of his life, plummet to her death--twice. Hitchcock yanked Vertigo
out of circulation, but Herrmann's music, enshrined on a spectacular
Mercury LP, kept the memory alive until the film was resurrected in the
1980s.
Psycho (1960), however, was an instant hit, and Hitchcock admitted that
much of its jolting terror came from Herrmann's music. The shrieking
dissonance of "The Murder" is the cinema's primal scream, deeply embedded
in our movie-going subconscious, instantly evoking Norman Bates's slashing
knife and Marion Crane's helpless cries. Even more haunting is the quiet
music, which invests the most ordinary images--a naked light bulb, a
suitcase on a bed--with dread. That Herrmann used only strings, normally a
Hollywood marker for schmaltzy romance, is even more disquieting.
Hitchcock originally wanted scant music in Psycho and repeatedly ordered
Herrmann not to write anything for the shower scene. Herrmann composed the
notorious cue in secret, then unveiled it to Hitchcock after a Christmas
break. Legend has it that Hitchcock--who feared Psycho was a dud and was
considering cutting it up for television--immediately reversed himself.
But the archives show that as late as January 31, the shower scene was
still to have no music. Hitchcock clearly had trouble letting go, though
by the end, he had relinquished quite a bit. Beginning with the least
music, Psycho ended up with more than in any Hitchcock film except
Vertigo. As Joseph Stefano, Psycho's screenwriter, said to me, "Bernie
took the picture and turned it into an opera."
Herrmann worried that Hitchcock resented his crucial role in the film's
success, and indeed, Psycho was the beginning of a tragic rift over issues
of authority and authorship. By the mid-60s, the rock 'n' roll age, the
studios regarded Herrmann as a grumpy throwback to an outmoded symphonic
era and producers pressured Hitchcock to fire him. Hitchcock warned
Herrmann that for Torn Curtain (1966), his superiors wanted a "60s beat."
Implacably independent as ever, Herrmann wrote a brassy, brutal symphonic
score (the best thing about Torn Curtain) that once again included a
harrowing cue for a central murder scene where Hitchcock specified no
music. Hitchcock appeared unannounced at the recording session and in
front of the orchestra angrily rejected Herrmann's score, a bruising
public humiliation. The greatest director-composer partnership in
Hollywood history was suddenly, shockingly over.
Ironically, Francois Truffaut, Brian De Palma, and Martin Scorsese--the
very representatives of the 60s generation that the studios were so eager
to appease--quickly snatched up Herrmann. Herrmann, it turned out, was
very much in tune with the times; it was corporate Hollywood that was out
of touch.
For Brian De Palma's 1973 shocker, Sisters, Herrmann used Moog
synthesizers and ferocious dissonance to unleash his greatest sonic
assault since Psycho. For Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451, a vision of the 21st
century from 1966, he went in the opposite direction, contributing what he
called a "simple nudity" not unlike what composers like Arvo Pärt strive
for today. When he asked Truffaut why he didn't hire an avant-gardist like
Karlheinz Stockhausen, Truffaut answered, "They'll give me music of the
20th century ... you'll give me music of the 21st."
Two of Herrmann's most haunting scores were written in 1975, the last year
of his life. For Obsession, De Palma's homage to Vertigo, Herrmann
conjured ghostly variations from his Hitchcock score (as he had done in
his 1967 "Souvenir de Voyage" for Clarinet Quintet), creating an aura of
intense longing and nostalgia. The main motif, a two-note suspension,
demonstrated again his ability to create a large poetic canvas from the
smallest materials. Pipe organ, brass, and strings produce magisterial
sonorities, but an ethereal chorus makes Obsession sound like music
overheard in a dream. This elegiac score clearly had a deep personal
meaning for Herrmann, who broke down in tears at the first screening.
Herrmann's finale, Taxi Driver, is dark even for him. This is another
Herrmann-haunted road movie; instead of Cary Grant racing across America
or Janet Leigh driving on a highway to nowhere, we get Robert DeNiro
cruising his taxi through Martin Scorsese's vision of a fantastically
ruined New York night town, powered by shattering brass and percussion and
a melancholy sax solo. As with Obsession, a two-note plunge is the
nucleus; an air of impending collapse hangs over the score. Alarmed by
Herrmann's heart condition, many colleagues and admirers, including a
young Steven Spielberg, came to Taxi Driver's recording session, which
turned out to be Herrmann's last: He died in his sleep Christmas Day after
putting the final touch on the piece, a shuddering reprise of the motif
that ends Moby Dick and Psycho. Martin Scorsese ended his film with a
dedication: "In gratitude and admiration to the memory of Bernard
Herrmann."
A centenary is a time to celebrate legacies, but Herrmann's is hard to
gauge. He was a great original who gave cinema a new sound, endlessly
plagiarized and resuscitated in everything from Psycho parodies (the
wittiest occurring in The Simpsons) to Quentin Tarantino's riff on Twisted
Nerve in Kill Bill (2003). When Scorcese and Gus Van Sant did their
(ill-considered) remakes of Cape Fear and Psycho (1991, 1998), they reused
Herrmann's music: What else could they do? When Douglas Gordon wanted to
represent "the sound of cinema" in his installation, Feature Film, he used
Vertigo.
Nonetheless, as the Herrmann biographer Steve Smith recently reminded me,
Herrmann was not a game changer in Hollywood. The scores of Hollywood's
best composers--John Williams, Danny Elfman, James Newton Howard--have
Herrmann touches, as does Michael Giacchino's gripping television music
for Lost. For the most part, however, Hollywood continues to recycle pop
tracks, techno music, pseudo-Korngold fanfares, and Carmina Burana
bombast--"by the yard," as Alex Ross recently put it.
One thing Herrmann did affect, perhaps permanently, was the status of film
music as an important form worthy of academic study. His radical break
from Hollywood bathos and his sheer professionalism caused movie fans and
scholars alike to regard film music with a new seriousness. Even neglected
masters like Franz Waxman and Miklos Rózsa have been lifted by the
Herrmann wave. Given the classical-music establishment's snobbish attitude
toward film music, that is no small achievement.
Jack Sullivan is a professor of English and director of American studies
at Rider University. His latest book is Hitchcock's Music (Yale University
Press, 2006).
http://www.filmmusicsociety.org/news_events/features/2014/122914.html
The following is a book on the score of VERTIGO:

The following is a book on the score of VERTIGO:

https://books.google.com/books?
id=7a8HAQAAMAAJ&q=herrmann+vertigo&dq=herrmann+vertigo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=BJG
nVNXpH461ogSi1IKwCw&ved=0CDUQ6AEwAA
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2017-12-10 06:10:46 UTC
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CHE 57n42: Bernard Herrmann: Hollywood's Musical Poet
http://chronicle.com/article/Bernard-Herrmann-Hollywoods/128068/
Bernard Herrmann's singular career career in Hollywood helped make film
music an important subject of academic study.
Enlarge Image
By Jack Sullivan
Everyone who loves movies knows the music of Bernard Herrmann, whether
they realize it or not. The growling brass in Citizen Kane, the spiraling
arpeggios in Vertigo, the rocketing fandango in North by Northwest, the
sultry alto sax in Taxi Driver, the slashing strings in Psycho--these are
iconic sounds in modern cinema. Herrmann has a wide range, from the
silvery elegance of The Magnificent Ambersons to the blustery menace of
Mysterious Island, but his obsessive motifs, floating modal chords, and
sudden bursts of longing are instantly recognizable. Listen to the
plummeting brass in Cape Fear or the glassy strings in the original
Twilight Zone theme: They don't resolve, don't provide closure, and don't
really go anywhere; they just lodge in our imaginations, haunting us long
after the screen goes dark.
Herrmann's stock in this centenary year is high, celebrated around the
world in performances of rarities like his 1951 opera, Wuthering Heights,
and suites of his familiar film scores. Yet scholarly work seems oddly
scant: Royal S. Brown's important interviews from the late 60s and early
70s, a scattering of articles, a few academic books from the 70s and 80s,
a meticulous harmonic analysis of Vertigo by David Cooper from 2001
(Greenwood Press), and a magnificent 1991 biography, A Heart at Fire's
Center, by Steven C. Smith (University of California Press).
Herrmann's cool, explosive sound has always seemed modern, and he was
always popular with the young, a fact misunderstood by the "complete
ignoramuses" (as he called them) he worked for during most of his career
and who were the object of his legendary tirades. When I teach my
Hitchcock course at Rider University, I'm always amazed how many students
know at least some of Herrmann's work. In March, when I gave a keynote
speech for "Partners in Suspense: Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann,"
a centenary conference in York, England, the usual suspects in the
scholarly community were there, but also a welcome crowd of young Herrmann
fanatics.
As a student at Juilliard and New York University, Herrmann studied with
Percy Grainger, from whom he inherited a hatred of pretension, a love for
unusual orchestration, and a fondness for daring harmony within a tonal
framework. Unlike classical composers who wrote film music as a necessary
sideshow to make money, Herrmann regarded his film, radio, and television
work as inseparable from his "classical" pieces; for him, these media were
essential for any 20th-century composer interested in reaching a real
audience. That academe and the classical-music community looked down on
film music was one of his greatest frustrations.
Herrmann's early career as a radio composer in the 1930s taught him to be
lean and economical. As chief conductor for CBS, he championed the work of
Charles Ives, Frederick Delius, and other iconoclasts whose
anti-establishment orneriness matched his own. From the beginning, he was
attracted to projects depicting lonely outsiders confronting tragic fates
and implacable forces of nature, from the convulsive 1938 cantata Moby
Dick to the Brontë sisters' works Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights (1943,
1951), to scores for Vertigo (1958) and Taxi Driver (1976).
Herrmann's breakthrough came from his partnership with Orson Welles,
another temperamental radical shunned by the establishment, whose Mercury
Theatre was leased by CBS. He teamed up with Welles in the notorious War
of the Worlds radio stunt in 1938, and Welles took him along when he
decided to make a movie in 1940--none other than Citizen Kane.
Welles had Herrmann at his side during shooting, shaping scenes to match
the music, and giving Hermann 12 weeks to complete the score--about twice
the norm. Kane carries Herrmann's lifelong signatures: a fanatical unity
based on the scantiest scraps, in this case a fragment of a medieval "Dies
Irae" chant sounded by glowering fanfares; and a fondness for spicy
chamber ensembles, especially low brass and shimmering percussion. For
Herrmann, color and timbre were all-important. Unlike most Hollywood
composers (John Williams being a notable exception), he orchestrated
everything himself and was contemptuous of those who hired arrangers.
The most radical aspect of Kane's music was its avoidance of swooning
Hollywood melody and its refusal to imitate what is on the screen. The
music comes from the inside, existing, as Herrmann put it, to "intensify
the inner thoughts of the characters.... It is the communicating link
between the screen and audience, reaching out and enveloping all into one
single experience." Herrmann's score, like Welles's deep-focus
photography, is a multilayered force that "envelops" the moviegoer, though
what it reveals is more intimate. The poignant "Rosebud" theme tells us
that underneath the imperious chorales depicting Kane's grandiosity is a
desperate, lonely soul. From the beginning, Herrmann could capture a
psyche with a few notes.
For Welles's next film, The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Herrmann
contributed delicate variations on a waltz by Émile Waldteufel. Written
for evanescent strings, chirping winds, and the sparkle of celestas and
glockenspiels, this wistful score is a requiem for a vanishing
preindustrial America, but it turned out to be one for the Herrmann-Welles
collaboration as well. Herrmann angrily stalked out of the screening room
when he saw the studio had cut his score (and Welles's images) in half,
demanding, with threat of a lawsuit, that his name be removed from the
credits, which it was. He never worked with Welles again. Though he had
many bitter run-ins with Hollywood brass, he told Martin Scorsese that
Ambersons was "the real heartbreaker" of his career.
Following the Ambersons debacle, Herrmann plunged headlong into his first
love, conducting, but during summers and vacations he gradually built up a
résumé of film music, much of it associated with the Gothic and the
fantastic: the 1945 Hangover Square, a Lisztian concerto macabre; the 1947
Ghost and Mrs. Muir, a subtle spook piece; the 1951 Day the Earth Stood
Still, which includes eerie electronic effects; the 1959 Journey to the
Center of the Earth, whose "Atlantis" sequence resonates with five organs;
and the Ray Harryhausen fantasies, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and
the Argonauts (1958, 1963), where conventional instruments produce such
otherworldly sonorities that electronic devices are beside the point.
Herrmann's biggest break came when his colleague Lyn Murray recommended
him to Alfred Hitchcock, and the two hit it off. Hitchcock considered
using Herrmann as early as 1945, but scheduling problems and producers'
concerns about Herrmann's temperament kept them apart. When Hitchcock
landed him in 1955, the timing was ideal. The lush idiom of Max Steiner
and Erich Korngold had peaked, making Herrmann's brooding asperity all the
more welcome. (On Broadway, a similar pattern unfolded, as Rodgers and
Hammerstein gave way to the bittersweet attenuations of Stephen Sondheim,
whose Sweeney Todd is an homage to Herrmann.)
Herrmann's dark eloquence and harmonic instability are indelibly
associated with Hitchcock's golden period. Their personalities were
dramatically opposite--Hitchcock imperious and controlling, Herrmann
notoriously moody. Yet the two shared an uncompromising professionalism, a
hatred of mediocrity, a black sense of humor, and a contempt for the
Hollywood establishment matched by a longing for its approval.
Herrmann was Hitchcock's secret sharer, a conjurer of energies more
explosive and dangerous than Hitchcock's cool sensibility easily
permitted. He pushed the Master's cinema ever deeper into a world of
anxiety and obsession. Even the delectable North by Northwest (1959) has
moments of longing and trauma one does not associate with comedy cues.
Hitchcock was equally good for Herrmann, giving him a cachet he had not
enjoyed since the Welles days and a rare stability for a maverick not
connected to a studio. Hitchcock and his secret sharer had, as Conrad
would call it, "a mysterious communication" that allowed each to tap into
the other. To The Trouble With Harry (1955), Herrmann brought sardonic wit
warmed by Elgarian lyricism. To The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), he
contributed malevolently spare chords as Hitchcock's camera tracks James
Stewart and Doris Day through empty streets and alleyways. In The Wrong
Man (1956), he produced a Latin jazz number with a corrosive
undertone--champagne poured over acid.
In Vertigo, their most important collaboration, Hitchcock invited Herrmann
onto the set before scenes were shot to discuss ideas and timing, a return
to the heady Kane days. From the moment Herrmann's waltz begins spiraling
in the main title, plunging the listener into the cinema's most elegant
nightmare, Scottie Ferguson's obsession becomes ours.
Vertigo was not exactly a box-office triumph. No one in 1958 wanted to see
Jimmy Stewart land in an asylum, and no one wanted to see Kim Novak, the
love of his life, plummet to her death--twice. Hitchcock yanked Vertigo
out of circulation, but Herrmann's music, enshrined on a spectacular
Mercury LP, kept the memory alive until the film was resurrected in the
1980s.
Psycho (1960), however, was an instant hit, and Hitchcock admitted that
much of its jolting terror came from Herrmann's music. The shrieking
dissonance of "The Murder" is the cinema's primal scream, deeply embedded
in our movie-going subconscious, instantly evoking Norman Bates's slashing
knife and Marion Crane's helpless cries. Even more haunting is the quiet
music, which invests the most ordinary images--a naked light bulb, a
suitcase on a bed--with dread. That Herrmann used only strings, normally a
Hollywood marker for schmaltzy romance, is even more disquieting.
Hitchcock originally wanted scant music in Psycho and repeatedly ordered
Herrmann not to write anything for the shower scene. Herrmann composed the
notorious cue in secret, then unveiled it to Hitchcock after a Christmas
break. Legend has it that Hitchcock--who feared Psycho was a dud and was
considering cutting it up for television--immediately reversed himself.
But the archives show that as late as January 31, the shower scene was
still to have no music. Hitchcock clearly had trouble letting go, though
by the end, he had relinquished quite a bit. Beginning with the least
music, Psycho ended up with more than in any Hitchcock film except
Vertigo. As Joseph Stefano, Psycho's screenwriter, said to me, "Bernie
took the picture and turned it into an opera."
Herrmann worried that Hitchcock resented his crucial role in the film's
success, and indeed, Psycho was the beginning of a tragic rift over issues
of authority and authorship. By the mid-60s, the rock 'n' roll age, the
studios regarded Herrmann as a grumpy throwback to an outmoded symphonic
era and producers pressured Hitchcock to fire him. Hitchcock warned
Herrmann that for Torn Curtain (1966), his superiors wanted a "60s beat."
Implacably independent as ever, Herrmann wrote a brassy, brutal symphonic
score (the best thing about Torn Curtain) that once again included a
harrowing cue for a central murder scene where Hitchcock specified no
music. Hitchcock appeared unannounced at the recording session and in
front of the orchestra angrily rejected Herrmann's score, a bruising
public humiliation. The greatest director-composer partnership in
Hollywood history was suddenly, shockingly over.
Ironically, Francois Truffaut, Brian De Palma, and Martin Scorsese--the
very representatives of the 60s generation that the studios were so eager
to appease--quickly snatched up Herrmann. Herrmann, it turned out, was
very much in tune with the times; it was corporate Hollywood that was out
of touch.
For Brian De Palma's 1973 shocker, Sisters, Herrmann used Moog
synthesizers and ferocious dissonance to unleash his greatest sonic
assault since Psycho. For Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451, a vision of the 21st
century from 1966, he went in the opposite direction, contributing what he
called a "simple nudity" not unlike what composers like Arvo Pärt strive
for today. When he asked Truffaut why he didn't hire an avant-gardist like
Karlheinz Stockhausen, Truffaut answered, "They'll give me music of the
20th century ... you'll give me music of the 21st."
Two of Herrmann's most haunting scores were written in 1975, the last year
of his life. For Obsession, De Palma's homage to Vertigo, Herrmann
conjured ghostly variations from his Hitchcock score (as he had done in
his 1967 "Souvenir de Voyage" for Clarinet Quintet), creating an aura of
intense longing and nostalgia. The main motif, a two-note suspension,
demonstrated again his ability to create a large poetic canvas from the
smallest materials. Pipe organ, brass, and strings produce magisterial
sonorities, but an ethereal chorus makes Obsession sound like music
overheard in a dream. This elegiac score clearly had a deep personal
meaning for Herrmann, who broke down in tears at the first screening.
Herrmann's finale, Taxi Driver, is dark even for him. This is another
Herrmann-haunted road movie; instead of Cary Grant racing across America
or Janet Leigh driving on a highway to nowhere, we get Robert DeNiro
cruising his taxi through Martin Scorsese's vision of a fantastically
ruined New York night town, powered by shattering brass and percussion and
a melancholy sax solo. As with Obsession, a two-note plunge is the
nucleus; an air of impending collapse hangs over the score. Alarmed by
Herrmann's heart condition, many colleagues and admirers, including a
young Steven Spielberg, came to Taxi Driver's recording session, which
turned out to be Herrmann's last: He died in his sleep Christmas Day after
putting the final touch on the piece, a shuddering reprise of the motif
that ends Moby Dick and Psycho. Martin Scorsese ended his film with a
dedication: "In gratitude and admiration to the memory of Bernard
Herrmann."
A centenary is a time to celebrate legacies, but Herrmann's is hard to
gauge. He was a great original who gave cinema a new sound, endlessly
plagiarized and resuscitated in everything from Psycho parodies (the
wittiest occurring in The Simpsons) to Quentin Tarantino's riff on Twisted
Nerve in Kill Bill (2003). When Scorcese and Gus Van Sant did their
(ill-considered) remakes of Cape Fear and Psycho (1991, 1998), they reused
Herrmann's music: What else could they do? When Douglas Gordon wanted to
represent "the sound of cinema" in his installation, Feature Film, he used
Vertigo.
Nonetheless, as the Herrmann biographer Steve Smith recently reminded me,
Herrmann was not a game changer in Hollywood. The scores of Hollywood's
best composers--John Williams, Danny Elfman, James Newton Howard--have
Herrmann touches, as does Michael Giacchino's gripping television music
for Lost. For the most part, however, Hollywood continues to recycle pop
tracks, techno music, pseudo-Korngold fanfares, and Carmina Burana
bombast--"by the yard," as Alex Ross recently put it.
One thing Herrmann did affect, perhaps permanently, was the status of film
music as an important form worthy of academic study. His radical break
from Hollywood bathos and his sheer professionalism caused movie fans and
scholars alike to regard film music with a new seriousness. Even neglected
masters like Franz Waxman and Miklos Rózsa have been lifted by the
Herrmann wave. Given the classical-music establishment's snobbish attitude
toward film music, that is no small achievement.
Jack Sullivan is a professor of English and director of American studies
at Rider University. His latest book is Hitchcock's Music (Yale University
Press, 2006).
http://www.filmmusicsociety.org/news_events/features/2014/122914.html
https://books.google.com/books?
id=7a8HAQAAMAAJ&q=herrmann+vertigo&dq=herrmann+vertigo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=BJG
nVNXpH461ogSi1IKwCw&ved=0CDUQ6AEwAA
Review of that book:

file:///C:/Users/New%20User/Downloads/6834-16088-1-PB.pdf
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2017-12-11 12:01:34 UTC
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file:///C:/Users/New%20User/Downloads/6834-16088-1-PB.pdf
This is a link to something on your hard drive.
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2017-12-10 05:43:01 UTC
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Post by Premise Checker
CHE 57n42: Bernard Herrmann: Hollywood's Musical Poet
http://chronicle.com/article/Bernard-Herrmann-Hollywoods/128068/
Bernard Herrmann's singular career career in Hollywood helped make film
music an important subject of academic study.
Enlarge Image
By Jack Sullivan
Everyone who loves movies knows the music of Bernard Herrmann, whether
they realize it or not. The growling brass in Citizen Kane, the spiraling
arpeggios in Vertigo, the rocketing fandango in North by Northwest, the
sultry alto sax in Taxi Driver, the slashing strings in Psycho--these are
iconic sounds in modern cinema. Herrmann has a wide range, from the
silvery elegance of The Magnificent Ambersons to the blustery menace of
Mysterious Island, but his obsessive motifs, floating modal chords, and
sudden bursts of longing are instantly recognizable. Listen to the
plummeting brass in Cape Fear or the glassy strings in the original
Twilight Zone theme: They don't resolve, don't provide closure, and don't
really go anywhere; they just lodge in our imaginations, haunting us long
after the screen goes dark.
Herrmann's stock in this centenary year is high, celebrated around the
world in performances of rarities like his 1951 opera, Wuthering Heights,
and suites of his familiar film scores. Yet scholarly work seems oddly
scant: Royal S. Brown's important interviews from the late 60s and early
70s, a scattering of articles, a few academic books from the 70s and 80s,
a meticulous harmonic analysis of Vertigo by David Cooper from 2001
(Greenwood Press), and a magnificent 1991 biography, A Heart at Fire's
Center, by Steven C. Smith (University of California Press).
Herrmann's cool, explosive sound has always seemed modern, and he was
always popular with the young, a fact misunderstood by the "complete
ignoramuses" (as he called them) he worked for during most of his career
and who were the object of his legendary tirades. When I teach my
Hitchcock course at Rider University, I'm always amazed how many students
know at least some of Herrmann's work. In March, when I gave a keynote
speech for "Partners in Suspense: Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann,"
a centenary conference in York, England, the usual suspects in the
scholarly community were there, but also a welcome crowd of young Herrmann
fanatics.
As a student at Juilliard and New York University, Herrmann studied with
Percy Grainger, from whom he inherited a hatred of pretension, a love for
unusual orchestration, and a fondness for daring harmony within a tonal
framework. Unlike classical composers who wrote film music as a necessary
sideshow to make money, Herrmann regarded his film, radio, and television
work as inseparable from his "classical" pieces; for him, these media were
essential for any 20th-century composer interested in reaching a real
audience. That academe and the classical-music community looked down on
film music was one of his greatest frustrations.
Herrmann's early career as a radio composer in the 1930s taught him to be
lean and economical. As chief conductor for CBS, he championed the work of
Charles Ives, Frederick Delius, and other iconoclasts whose
anti-establishment orneriness matched his own. From the beginning, he was
attracted to projects depicting lonely outsiders confronting tragic fates
and implacable forces of nature, from the convulsive 1938 cantata Moby
Dick to the Brontë sisters' works Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights (1943,
1951), to scores for Vertigo (1958) and Taxi Driver (1976).
Herrmann's breakthrough came from his partnership with Orson Welles,
another temperamental radical shunned by the establishment, whose Mercury
Theatre was leased by CBS. He teamed up with Welles in the notorious War
of the Worlds radio stunt in 1938, and Welles took him along when he
decided to make a movie in 1940--none other than Citizen Kane.
Welles had Herrmann at his side during shooting, shaping scenes to match
the music, and giving Hermann 12 weeks to complete the score--about twice
the norm. Kane carries Herrmann's lifelong signatures: a fanatical unity
based on the scantiest scraps, in this case a fragment of a medieval "Dies
Irae" chant sounded by glowering fanfares; and a fondness for spicy
chamber ensembles, especially low brass and shimmering percussion. For
Herrmann, color and timbre were all-important. Unlike most Hollywood
composers (John Williams being a notable exception), he orchestrated
everything himself and was contemptuous of those who hired arrangers.
The most radical aspect of Kane's music was its avoidance of swooning
Hollywood melody and its refusal to imitate what is on the screen. The
music comes from the inside, existing, as Herrmann put it, to "intensify
the inner thoughts of the characters.... It is the communicating link
between the screen and audience, reaching out and enveloping all into one
single experience." Herrmann's score, like Welles's deep-focus
photography, is a multilayered force that "envelops" the moviegoer, though
what it reveals is more intimate. The poignant "Rosebud" theme tells us
that underneath the imperious chorales depicting Kane's grandiosity is a
desperate, lonely soul. From the beginning, Herrmann could capture a
psyche with a few notes.
For Welles's next film, The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Herrmann
contributed delicate variations on a waltz by Émile Waldteufel. Written
for evanescent strings, chirping winds, and the sparkle of celestas and
glockenspiels, this wistful score is a requiem for a vanishing
preindustrial America, but it turned out to be one for the Herrmann-Welles
collaboration as well. Herrmann angrily stalked out of the screening room
when he saw the studio had cut his score (and Welles's images) in half,
demanding, with threat of a lawsuit, that his name be removed from the
credits, which it was. He never worked with Welles again. Though he had
many bitter run-ins with Hollywood brass, he told Martin Scorsese that
Ambersons was "the real heartbreaker" of his career.
Following the Ambersons debacle, Herrmann plunged headlong into his first
love, conducting, but during summers and vacations he gradually built up a
résumé of film music, much of it associated with the Gothic and the
fantastic: the 1945 Hangover Square, a Lisztian concerto macabre; the 1947
Ghost and Mrs. Muir, a subtle spook piece; the 1951 Day the Earth Stood
Still, which includes eerie electronic effects; the 1959 Journey to the
Center of the Earth, whose "Atlantis" sequence resonates with five organs;
and the Ray Harryhausen fantasies, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and
the Argonauts (1958, 1963), where conventional instruments produce such
otherworldly sonorities that electronic devices are beside the point.
Herrmann's biggest break came when his colleague Lyn Murray recommended
him to Alfred Hitchcock, and the two hit it off. Hitchcock considered
using Herrmann as early as 1945, but scheduling problems and producers'
concerns about Herrmann's temperament kept them apart. When Hitchcock
landed him in 1955, the timing was ideal. The lush idiom of Max Steiner
and Erich Korngold had peaked, making Herrmann's brooding asperity all the
more welcome. (On Broadway, a similar pattern unfolded, as Rodgers and
Hammerstein gave way to the bittersweet attenuations of Stephen Sondheim,
whose Sweeney Todd is an homage to Herrmann.)
Herrmann's dark eloquence and harmonic instability are indelibly
associated with Hitchcock's golden period. Their personalities were
dramatically opposite--Hitchcock imperious and controlling, Herrmann
notoriously moody. Yet the two shared an uncompromising professionalism, a
hatred of mediocrity, a black sense of humor, and a contempt for the
Hollywood establishment matched by a longing for its approval.
Herrmann was Hitchcock's secret sharer, a conjurer of energies more
explosive and dangerous than Hitchcock's cool sensibility easily
permitted. He pushed the Master's cinema ever deeper into a world of
anxiety and obsession. Even the delectable North by Northwest (1959) has
moments of longing and trauma one does not associate with comedy cues.
Hitchcock was equally good for Herrmann, giving him a cachet he had not
enjoyed since the Welles days and a rare stability for a maverick not
connected to a studio. Hitchcock and his secret sharer had, as Conrad
would call it, "a mysterious communication" that allowed each to tap into
the other. To The Trouble With Harry (1955), Herrmann brought sardonic wit
warmed by Elgarian lyricism. To The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), he
contributed malevolently spare chords as Hitchcock's camera tracks James
Stewart and Doris Day through empty streets and alleyways. In The Wrong
Man (1956), he produced a Latin jazz number with a corrosive
undertone--champagne poured over acid.
In Vertigo, their most important collaboration, Hitchcock invited Herrmann
onto the set before scenes were shot to discuss ideas and timing, a return
to the heady Kane days. From the moment Herrmann's waltz begins spiraling
in the main title, plunging the listener into the cinema's most elegant
nightmare, Scottie Ferguson's obsession becomes ours.
Vertigo was not exactly a box-office triumph. No one in 1958 wanted to see
Jimmy Stewart land in an asylum, and no one wanted to see Kim Novak, the
love of his life, plummet to her death--twice. Hitchcock yanked Vertigo
out of circulation, but Herrmann's music, enshrined on a spectacular
Mercury LP, kept the memory alive until the film was resurrected in the
1980s.
Psycho (1960), however, was an instant hit, and Hitchcock admitted that
much of its jolting terror came from Herrmann's music. The shrieking
dissonance of "The Murder" is the cinema's primal scream, deeply embedded
in our movie-going subconscious, instantly evoking Norman Bates's slashing
knife and Marion Crane's helpless cries. Even more haunting is the quiet
music, which invests the most ordinary images--a naked light bulb, a
suitcase on a bed--with dread. That Herrmann used only strings, normally a
Hollywood marker for schmaltzy romance, is even more disquieting.
Hitchcock originally wanted scant music in Psycho and repeatedly ordered
Herrmann not to write anything for the shower scene. Herrmann composed the
notorious cue in secret, then unveiled it to Hitchcock after a Christmas
break. Legend has it that Hitchcock--who feared Psycho was a dud and was
considering cutting it up for television--immediately reversed himself.
But the archives show that as late as January 31, the shower scene was
still to have no music. Hitchcock clearly had trouble letting go, though
by the end, he had relinquished quite a bit. Beginning with the least
music, Psycho ended up with more than in any Hitchcock film except
Vertigo. As Joseph Stefano, Psycho's screenwriter, said to me, "Bernie
took the picture and turned it into an opera."
Herrmann worried that Hitchcock resented his crucial role in the film's
success, and indeed, Psycho was the beginning of a tragic rift over issues
of authority and authorship. By the mid-60s, the rock 'n' roll age, the
studios regarded Herrmann as a grumpy throwback to an outmoded symphonic
era and producers pressured Hitchcock to fire him. Hitchcock warned
Herrmann that for Torn Curtain (1966), his superiors wanted a "60s beat."
Implacably independent as ever, Herrmann wrote a brassy, brutal symphonic
score (the best thing about Torn Curtain) that once again included a
harrowing cue for a central murder scene where Hitchcock specified no
music. Hitchcock appeared unannounced at the recording session and in
front of the orchestra angrily rejected Herrmann's score, a bruising
public humiliation. The greatest director-composer partnership in
Hollywood history was suddenly, shockingly over.
Ironically, Francois Truffaut, Brian De Palma, and Martin Scorsese--the
very representatives of the 60s generation that the studios were so eager
to appease--quickly snatched up Herrmann. Herrmann, it turned out, was
very much in tune with the times; it was corporate Hollywood that was out
of touch.
For Brian De Palma's 1973 shocker, Sisters, Herrmann used Moog
synthesizers and ferocious dissonance to unleash his greatest sonic
assault since Psycho. For Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451, a vision of the 21st
century from 1966, he went in the opposite direction, contributing what he
called a "simple nudity" not unlike what composers like Arvo Pärt strive
for today. When he asked Truffaut why he didn't hire an avant-gardist like
Karlheinz Stockhausen, Truffaut answered, "They'll give me music of the
20th century ... you'll give me music of the 21st."
Two of Herrmann's most haunting scores were written in 1975, the last year
of his life. For Obsession, De Palma's homage to Vertigo, Herrmann
conjured ghostly variations from his Hitchcock score (as he had done in
his 1967 "Souvenir de Voyage" for Clarinet Quintet), creating an aura of
intense longing and nostalgia. The main motif, a two-note suspension,
demonstrated again his ability to create a large poetic canvas from the
smallest materials. Pipe organ, brass, and strings produce magisterial
sonorities, but an ethereal chorus makes Obsession sound like music
overheard in a dream. This elegiac score clearly had a deep personal
meaning for Herrmann, who broke down in tears at the first screening.
Herrmann's finale, Taxi Driver, is dark even for him. This is another
Herrmann-haunted road movie; instead of Cary Grant racing across America
or Janet Leigh driving on a highway to nowhere, we get Robert DeNiro
cruising his taxi through Martin Scorsese's vision of a fantastically
ruined New York night town, powered by shattering brass and percussion and
a melancholy sax solo. As with Obsession, a two-note plunge is the
nucleus; an air of impending collapse hangs over the score. Alarmed by
Herrmann's heart condition, many colleagues and admirers, including a
young Steven Spielberg, came to Taxi Driver's recording session, which
turned out to be Herrmann's last: He died in his sleep Christmas Day after
putting the final touch on the piece, a shuddering reprise of the motif
that ends Moby Dick and Psycho. Martin Scorsese ended his film with a
dedication: "In gratitude and admiration to the memory of Bernard
Herrmann."
A centenary is a time to celebrate legacies, but Herrmann's is hard to
gauge. He was a great original who gave cinema a new sound, endlessly
plagiarized and resuscitated in everything from Psycho parodies (the
wittiest occurring in The Simpsons) to Quentin Tarantino's riff on Twisted
Nerve in Kill Bill (2003). When Scorcese and Gus Van Sant did their
(ill-considered) remakes of Cape Fear and Psycho (1991, 1998), they reused
Herrmann's music: What else could they do? When Douglas Gordon wanted to
represent "the sound of cinema" in his installation, Feature Film, he used
Vertigo.
Nonetheless, as the Herrmann biographer Steve Smith recently reminded me,
Herrmann was not a game changer in Hollywood. The scores of Hollywood's
best composers--John Williams, Danny Elfman, James Newton Howard--have
Herrmann touches, as does Michael Giacchino's gripping television music
for Lost. For the most part, however, Hollywood continues to recycle pop
tracks, techno music, pseudo-Korngold fanfares, and Carmina Burana
bombast--"by the yard," as Alex Ross recently put it.
One thing Herrmann did affect, perhaps permanently, was the status of film
music as an important form worthy of academic study. His radical break
from Hollywood bathos and his sheer professionalism caused movie fans and
scholars alike to regard film music with a new seriousness. Even neglected
masters like Franz Waxman and Miklos Rózsa have been lifted by the
Herrmann wave. Given the classical-music establishment's snobbish attitude
toward film music, that is no small achievement.
Jack Sullivan is a professor of English and director of American studies
at Rider University. His latest book is Hitchcock's Music (Yale University
Press, 2006).
Am I the only one who finds it almost amazing that he won the Oscar in 1941 for THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER and not for CITIZEN KANE which he was also nominated for?
g***@gmail.com
2017-12-10 06:03:43 UTC
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Post by Premise Checker
CHE 57n42: Bernard Herrmann: Hollywood's Musical Poet
http://chronicle.com/article/Bernard-Herrmann-Hollywoods/128068/
Bernard Herrmann's singular career career in Hollywood helped make film
music an important subject of academic study.
Enlarge Image
By Jack Sullivan
Everyone who loves movies knows the music of Bernard Herrmann, whether
they realize it or not. The growling brass in Citizen Kane, the spiraling
arpeggios in Vertigo, the rocketing fandango in North by Northwest, the
sultry alto sax in Taxi Driver, the slashing strings in Psycho--these are
iconic sounds in modern cinema. Herrmann has a wide range, from the
silvery elegance of The Magnificent Ambersons to the blustery menace of
Mysterious Island, but his obsessive motifs, floating modal chords, and
sudden bursts of longing are instantly recognizable. Listen to the
plummeting brass in Cape Fear or the glassy strings in the original
Twilight Zone theme: They don't resolve, don't provide closure, and don't
really go anywhere; they just lodge in our imaginations, haunting us long
after the screen goes dark.
Herrmann's stock in this centenary year is high, celebrated around the
world in performances of rarities like his 1951 opera, Wuthering Heights,
and suites of his familiar film scores. Yet scholarly work seems oddly
scant: Royal S. Brown's important interviews from the late 60s and early
70s, a scattering of articles, a few academic books from the 70s and 80s,
a meticulous harmonic analysis of Vertigo by David Cooper from 2001
(Greenwood Press), and a magnificent 1991 biography, A Heart at Fire's
Center, by Steven C. Smith (University of California Press).
Herrmann's cool, explosive sound has always seemed modern, and he was
always popular with the young, a fact misunderstood by the "complete
ignoramuses" (as he called them) he worked for during most of his career
and who were the object of his legendary tirades. When I teach my
Hitchcock course at Rider University, I'm always amazed how many students
know at least some of Herrmann's work. In March, when I gave a keynote
speech for "Partners in Suspense: Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann,"
a centenary conference in York, England, the usual suspects in the
scholarly community were there, but also a welcome crowd of young Herrmann
fanatics.
As a student at Juilliard and New York University, Herrmann studied with
Percy Grainger, from whom he inherited a hatred of pretension, a love for
unusual orchestration, and a fondness for daring harmony within a tonal
framework. Unlike classical composers who wrote film music as a necessary
sideshow to make money, Herrmann regarded his film, radio, and television
work as inseparable from his "classical" pieces; for him, these media were
essential for any 20th-century composer interested in reaching a real
audience. That academe and the classical-music community looked down on
film music was one of his greatest frustrations.
Herrmann's early career as a radio composer in the 1930s taught him to be
lean and economical. As chief conductor for CBS, he championed the work of
Charles Ives, Frederick Delius, and other iconoclasts whose
anti-establishment orneriness matched his own. From the beginning, he was
attracted to projects depicting lonely outsiders confronting tragic fates
and implacable forces of nature, from the convulsive 1938 cantata Moby
Dick to the Brontë sisters' works Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights (1943,
1951), to scores for Vertigo (1958) and Taxi Driver (1976).
Herrmann's breakthrough came from his partnership with Orson Welles,
another temperamental radical shunned by the establishment, whose Mercury
Theatre was leased by CBS. He teamed up with Welles in the notorious War
of the Worlds radio stunt in 1938, and Welles took him along when he
decided to make a movie in 1940--none other than Citizen Kane.
Welles had Herrmann at his side during shooting, shaping scenes to match
the music, and giving Hermann 12 weeks to complete the score--about twice
the norm. Kane carries Herrmann's lifelong signatures: a fanatical unity
based on the scantiest scraps, in this case a fragment of a medieval "Dies
Irae" chant sounded by glowering fanfares; and a fondness for spicy
chamber ensembles, especially low brass and shimmering percussion. For
Herrmann, color and timbre were all-important. Unlike most Hollywood
composers (John Williams being a notable exception), he orchestrated
everything himself and was contemptuous of those who hired arrangers.
The most radical aspect of Kane's music was its avoidance of swooning
Hollywood melody and its refusal to imitate what is on the screen. The
music comes from the inside, existing, as Herrmann put it, to "intensify
the inner thoughts of the characters.... It is the communicating link
between the screen and audience, reaching out and enveloping all into one
single experience." Herrmann's score, like Welles's deep-focus
photography, is a multilayered force that "envelops" the moviegoer, though
what it reveals is more intimate. The poignant "Rosebud" theme tells us
that underneath the imperious chorales depicting Kane's grandiosity is a
desperate, lonely soul. From the beginning, Herrmann could capture a
psyche with a few notes.
For Welles's next film, The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Herrmann
contributed delicate variations on a waltz by Émile Waldteufel. Written
for evanescent strings, chirping winds, and the sparkle of celestas and
glockenspiels, this wistful score is a requiem for a vanishing
preindustrial America, but it turned out to be one for the Herrmann-Welles
collaboration as well. Herrmann angrily stalked out of the screening room
when he saw the studio had cut his score (and Welles's images) in half,
demanding, with threat of a lawsuit, that his name be removed from the
credits, which it was. He never worked with Welles again. Though he had
many bitter run-ins with Hollywood brass, he told Martin Scorsese that
Ambersons was "the real heartbreaker" of his career.
Following the Ambersons debacle, Herrmann plunged headlong into his first
love, conducting, but during summers and vacations he gradually built up a
résumé of film music, much of it associated with the Gothic and the
fantastic: the 1945 Hangover Square, a Lisztian concerto macabre; the 1947
Ghost and Mrs. Muir, a subtle spook piece; the 1951 Day the Earth Stood
Still, which includes eerie electronic effects; the 1959 Journey to the
Center of the Earth, whose "Atlantis" sequence resonates with five organs;
and the Ray Harryhausen fantasies, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and
the Argonauts (1958, 1963), where conventional instruments produce such
otherworldly sonorities that electronic devices are beside the point.
Herrmann's biggest break came when his colleague Lyn Murray recommended
him to Alfred Hitchcock, and the two hit it off. Hitchcock considered
using Herrmann as early as 1945, but scheduling problems and producers'
concerns about Herrmann's temperament kept them apart. When Hitchcock
landed him in 1955, the timing was ideal. The lush idiom of Max Steiner
and Erich Korngold had peaked, making Herrmann's brooding asperity all the
more welcome. (On Broadway, a similar pattern unfolded, as Rodgers and
Hammerstein gave way to the bittersweet attenuations of Stephen Sondheim,
whose Sweeney Todd is an homage to Herrmann.)
Herrmann's dark eloquence and harmonic instability are indelibly
associated with Hitchcock's golden period. Their personalities were
dramatically opposite--Hitchcock imperious and controlling, Herrmann
notoriously moody. Yet the two shared an uncompromising professionalism, a
hatred of mediocrity, a black sense of humor, and a contempt for the
Hollywood establishment matched by a longing for its approval.
Herrmann was Hitchcock's secret sharer, a conjurer of energies more
explosive and dangerous than Hitchcock's cool sensibility easily
permitted. He pushed the Master's cinema ever deeper into a world of
anxiety and obsession. Even the delectable North by Northwest (1959) has
moments of longing and trauma one does not associate with comedy cues.
Hitchcock was equally good for Herrmann, giving him a cachet he had not
enjoyed since the Welles days and a rare stability for a maverick not
connected to a studio. Hitchcock and his secret sharer had, as Conrad
would call it, "a mysterious communication" that allowed each to tap into
the other. To The Trouble With Harry (1955), Herrmann brought sardonic wit
warmed by Elgarian lyricism. To The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), he
contributed malevolently spare chords as Hitchcock's camera tracks James
Stewart and Doris Day through empty streets and alleyways. In The Wrong
Man (1956), he produced a Latin jazz number with a corrosive
undertone--champagne poured over acid.
In Vertigo, their most important collaboration, Hitchcock invited Herrmann
onto the set before scenes were shot to discuss ideas and timing, a return
to the heady Kane days. From the moment Herrmann's waltz begins spiraling
in the main title, plunging the listener into the cinema's most elegant
nightmare, Scottie Ferguson's obsession becomes ours.
Vertigo was not exactly a box-office triumph. No one in 1958 wanted to see
Jimmy Stewart land in an asylum, and no one wanted to see Kim Novak, the
love of his life, plummet to her death--twice. Hitchcock yanked Vertigo
out of circulation, but Herrmann's music, enshrined on a spectacular
Mercury LP, kept the memory alive until the film was resurrected in the
1980s.
Psycho (1960), however, was an instant hit, and Hitchcock admitted that
much of its jolting terror came from Herrmann's music. The shrieking
dissonance of "The Murder" is the cinema's primal scream, deeply embedded
in our movie-going subconscious, instantly evoking Norman Bates's slashing
knife and Marion Crane's helpless cries. Even more haunting is the quiet
music, which invests the most ordinary images--a naked light bulb, a
suitcase on a bed--with dread. That Herrmann used only strings, normally a
Hollywood marker for schmaltzy romance, is even more disquieting.
Hitchcock originally wanted scant music in Psycho and repeatedly ordered
Herrmann not to write anything for the shower scene. Herrmann composed the
notorious cue in secret, then unveiled it to Hitchcock after a Christmas
break. Legend has it that Hitchcock--who feared Psycho was a dud and was
considering cutting it up for television--immediately reversed himself.
But the archives show that as late as January 31, the shower scene was
still to have no music. Hitchcock clearly had trouble letting go, though
by the end, he had relinquished quite a bit. Beginning with the least
music, Psycho ended up with more than in any Hitchcock film except
Vertigo. As Joseph Stefano, Psycho's screenwriter, said to me, "Bernie
took the picture and turned it into an opera."
Herrmann worried that Hitchcock resented his crucial role in the film's
success, and indeed, Psycho was the beginning of a tragic rift over issues
of authority and authorship. By the mid-60s, the rock 'n' roll age, the
studios regarded Herrmann as a grumpy throwback to an outmoded symphonic
era and producers pressured Hitchcock to fire him. Hitchcock warned
Herrmann that for Torn Curtain (1966), his superiors wanted a "60s beat."
Implacably independent as ever, Herrmann wrote a brassy, brutal symphonic
score (the best thing about Torn Curtain) that once again included a
harrowing cue for a central murder scene where Hitchcock specified no
music. Hitchcock appeared unannounced at the recording session and in
front of the orchestra angrily rejected Herrmann's score, a bruising
public humiliation. The greatest director-composer partnership in
Hollywood history was suddenly, shockingly over.
Ironically, Francois Truffaut, Brian De Palma, and Martin Scorsese--the
very representatives of the 60s generation that the studios were so eager
to appease--quickly snatched up Herrmann. Herrmann, it turned out, was
very much in tune with the times; it was corporate Hollywood that was out
of touch.
For Brian De Palma's 1973 shocker, Sisters, Herrmann used Moog
synthesizers and ferocious dissonance to unleash his greatest sonic
assault since Psycho. For Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451, a vision of the 21st
century from 1966, he went in the opposite direction, contributing what he
called a "simple nudity" not unlike what composers like Arvo Pärt strive
for today. When he asked Truffaut why he didn't hire an avant-gardist like
Karlheinz Stockhausen, Truffaut answered, "They'll give me music of the
20th century ... you'll give me music of the 21st."
Two of Herrmann's most haunting scores were written in 1975, the last year
of his life. For Obsession, De Palma's homage to Vertigo, Herrmann
conjured ghostly variations from his Hitchcock score (as he had done in
his 1967 "Souvenir de Voyage" for Clarinet Quintet), creating an aura of
intense longing and nostalgia. The main motif, a two-note suspension,
demonstrated again his ability to create a large poetic canvas from the
smallest materials. Pipe organ, brass, and strings produce magisterial
sonorities, but an ethereal chorus makes Obsession sound like music
overheard in a dream. This elegiac score clearly had a deep personal
meaning for Herrmann, who broke down in tears at the first screening.
Herrmann's finale, Taxi Driver, is dark even for him. This is another
Herrmann-haunted road movie; instead of Cary Grant racing across America
or Janet Leigh driving on a highway to nowhere, we get Robert DeNiro
cruising his taxi through Martin Scorsese's vision of a fantastically
ruined New York night town, powered by shattering brass and percussion and
a melancholy sax solo. As with Obsession, a two-note plunge is the
nucleus; an air of impending collapse hangs over the score. Alarmed by
Herrmann's heart condition, many colleagues and admirers, including a
young Steven Spielberg, came to Taxi Driver's recording session, which
turned out to be Herrmann's last: He died in his sleep Christmas Day after
putting the final touch on the piece, a shuddering reprise of the motif
that ends Moby Dick and Psycho. Martin Scorsese ended his film with a
dedication: "In gratitude and admiration to the memory of Bernard
Herrmann."
A centenary is a time to celebrate legacies, but Herrmann's is hard to
gauge. He was a great original who gave cinema a new sound, endlessly
plagiarized and resuscitated in everything from Psycho parodies (the
wittiest occurring in The Simpsons) to Quentin Tarantino's riff on Twisted
Nerve in Kill Bill (2003). When Scorcese and Gus Van Sant did their
(ill-considered) remakes of Cape Fear and Psycho (1991, 1998), they reused
Herrmann's music: What else could they do? When Douglas Gordon wanted to
represent "the sound of cinema" in his installation, Feature Film, he used
Vertigo.
Nonetheless, as the Herrmann biographer Steve Smith recently reminded me,
Herrmann was not a game changer in Hollywood. The scores of Hollywood's
best composers--John Williams, Danny Elfman, James Newton Howard--have
Herrmann touches, as does Michael Giacchino's gripping television music
for Lost. For the most part, however, Hollywood continues to recycle pop
tracks, techno music, pseudo-Korngold fanfares, and Carmina Burana
bombast--"by the yard," as Alex Ross recently put it.
One thing Herrmann did affect, perhaps permanently, was the status of film
music as an important form worthy of academic study. His radical break
from Hollywood bathos and his sheer professionalism caused movie fans and
scholars alike to regard film music with a new seriousness. Even neglected
masters like Franz Waxman and Miklos Rózsa have been lifted by the
Herrmann wave. Given the classical-music establishment's snobbish attitude
toward film music, that is no small achievement.
Jack Sullivan is a professor of English and director of American studies
at Rider University. His latest book is Hitchcock's Music (Yale University
Press, 2006).
Am I the only one who finds it almost amazing that he won the Oscar in 1941 for THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER and not for CITIZEN KANE for which he was also nominated?
g***@gmail.com
2018-09-18 02:22:52 UTC
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Post by Premise Checker
CHE 57n42: Bernard Herrmann: Hollywood's Musical Poet
http://chronicle.com/article/Bernard-Herrmann-Hollywoods/128068/
Bernard Herrmann's singular career career in Hollywood helped make film
music an important subject of academic study.
Enlarge Image
By Jack Sullivan
Everyone who loves movies knows the music of Bernard Herrmann, whether
they realize it or not. The growling brass in Citizen Kane, the spiraling
arpeggios in Vertigo, the rocketing fandango in North by Northwest, the
sultry alto sax in Taxi Driver...
Couldn't the score of TAXI DRIVER be considered "...more jazz- and pop-influenced" than anything Herrmann had composed previously making the following ironic?:

- Herrmann's relationship with Hitchcock came to an abrupt end when they disagreed over the score for Torn Curtain. Reportedly pressured by Universal executives, Hitchcock wanted a score that was more jazz- and pop-influenced. Hitchcock's biographer, Patrick McGilligan, stated that Hitchcock was worried about becoming old-fashioned and felt that Herrmann's music had to change with the times as well. Herrmann initially accepted the offer, but then decided to score the film according to his own ideas.[15]

Hitchcock listened to only the prelude of the score before confronting Herrmann about the pop score. Herrmann, equally incensed, bellowed, "Look, Hitch, you can't outjump your own shadow. And you don't make pop pictures. What do you want with me? I don't write pop music." Hitchcock unrelentingly insisted that Herrmann change the score, violating Herrmann's general claim to the creative control he had always maintained in their previous work together. Herrmann then said, "Hitch, what's the use of my doing more with you? I had a career before you, and I will afterwards."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Herrmann#Collaboration_with_Alfred_Hitchcock
boombox
2018-09-19 16:33:19 UTC
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Post by Premise Checker
CHE 57n42: Bernard Herrmann: Hollywood's Musical Poet
http://chronicle.com/article/Bernard-Herrmann-Hollywoods/128068/
Bernard Herrmann's singular career career in Hollywood helped make film
music an important subject of academic study.
Enlarge Image
By Jack Sullivan
Everyone who loves movies knows the music of Bernard Herrmann, whether
they realize it or not. The growling brass in Citizen Kane, the spiraling
arpeggios in Vertigo, the rocketing fandango in North by Northwest, the
sultry alto sax in Taxi Driver...
yes, but it also has a "Psycho" quote in it.
g***@gmail.com
2020-01-22 18:40:03 UTC
Reply
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Post by Premise Checker
CHE 57n42: Bernard Herrmann: Hollywood's Musical Poet
http://chronicle.com/article/Bernard-Herrmann-Hollywoods/128068/
Bernard Herrmann's singular career career in Hollywood helped make film
music an important subject of academic study.
Enlarge Image
By Jack Sullivan
Everyone who loves movies knows the music of Bernard Herrmann, whether
they realize it or not. The growling brass in Citizen Kane, the spiraling
arpeggios in Vertigo, the rocketing fandango in North by Northwest, the
sultry alto sax in Taxi Driver, the slashing strings in Psycho--these are
iconic sounds in modern cinema. Herrmann has a wide range, from the
silvery elegance of The Magnificent Ambersons to the blustery menace of
Mysterious Island, but his obsessive motifs, floating modal chords, and
sudden bursts of longing are instantly recognizable. Listen to the
plummeting brass in Cape Fear or the glassy strings in the original
Twilight Zone theme: They don't resolve, don't provide closure, and don't
really go anywhere; they just lodge in our imaginations, haunting us long
after the screen goes dark.
Herrmann's stock in this centenary year is high, celebrated around the
world in performances of rarities like his 1951 opera, Wuthering Heights,
and suites of his familiar film scores. Yet scholarly work seems oddly
scant: Royal S. Brown's important interviews from the late 60s and early
70s, a scattering of articles, a few academic books from the 70s and 80s,
a meticulous harmonic analysis of Vertigo by David Cooper from 2001
(Greenwood Press), and a magnificent 1991 biography, A Heart at Fire's
Center, by Steven C. Smith (University of California Press).
Herrmann's cool, explosive sound has always seemed modern, and he was
always popular with the young, a fact misunderstood by the "complete
ignoramuses" (as he called them) he worked for during most of his career
and who were the object of his legendary tirades. When I teach my
Hitchcock course at Rider University, I'm always amazed how many students
know at least some of Herrmann's work. In March, when I gave a keynote
speech for "Partners in Suspense: Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann,"
a centenary conference in York, England, the usual suspects in the
scholarly community were there, but also a welcome crowd of young Herrmann
fanatics.
As a student at Juilliard and New York University, Herrmann studied with
Percy Grainger, from whom he inherited a hatred of pretension, a love for
unusual orchestration, and a fondness for daring harmony within a tonal
framework. Unlike classical composers who wrote film music as a necessary
sideshow to make money, Herrmann regarded his film, radio, and television
work as inseparable from his "classical" pieces; for him, these media were
essential for any 20th-century composer interested in reaching a real
audience. That academe and the classical-music community looked down on
film music was one of his greatest frustrations.
Herrmann's early career as a radio composer in the 1930s taught him to be
lean and economical. As chief conductor for CBS, he championed the work of
Charles Ives, Frederick Delius, and other iconoclasts whose
anti-establishment orneriness matched his own. From the beginning, he was
attracted to projects depicting lonely outsiders confronting tragic fates
and implacable forces of nature, from the convulsive 1938 cantata Moby
Dick to the Brontë sisters' works Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights (1943,
1951), to scores for Vertigo (1958) and Taxi Driver (1976).
Herrmann's breakthrough came from his partnership with Orson Welles,
another temperamental radical shunned by the establishment, whose Mercury
Theatre was leased by CBS. He teamed up with Welles in the notorious War
of the Worlds radio stunt in 1938, and Welles took him along when he
decided to make a movie in 1940--none other than Citizen Kane.
Welles had Herrmann at his side during shooting, shaping scenes to match
the music, and giving Hermann 12 weeks to complete the score--about twice
the norm. Kane carries Herrmann's lifelong signatures: a fanatical unity
based on the scantiest scraps, in this case a fragment of a medieval "Dies
Irae" chant sounded by glowering fanfares; and a fondness for spicy
chamber ensembles, especially low brass and shimmering percussion. For
Herrmann, color and timbre were all-important. Unlike most Hollywood
composers (John Williams being a notable exception), he orchestrated
everything himself and was contemptuous of those who hired arrangers.
The most radical aspect of Kane's music was its avoidance of swooning
Hollywood melody and its refusal to imitate what is on the screen. The
music comes from the inside, existing, as Herrmann put it, to "intensify
the inner thoughts of the characters.... It is the communicating link
between the screen and audience, reaching out and enveloping all into one
single experience." Herrmann's score, like Welles's deep-focus
photography, is a multilayered force that "envelops" the moviegoer, though
what it reveals is more intimate. The poignant "Rosebud" theme tells us
that underneath the imperious chorales depicting Kane's grandiosity is a
desperate, lonely soul. From the beginning, Herrmann could capture a
psyche with a few notes.
For Welles's next film, The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Herrmann
contributed delicate variations on a waltz by Émile Waldteufel. Written
for evanescent strings, chirping winds, and the sparkle of celestas and
glockenspiels, this wistful score is a requiem for a vanishing
preindustrial America, but it turned out to be one for the Herrmann-Welles
collaboration as well. Herrmann angrily stalked out of the screening room
when he saw the studio had cut his score (and Welles's images) in half,
demanding, with threat of a lawsuit, that his name be removed from the
credits, which it was. He never worked with Welles again. Though he had
many bitter run-ins with Hollywood brass, he told Martin Scorsese that
Ambersons was "the real heartbreaker" of his career.
Following the Ambersons debacle, Herrmann plunged headlong into his first
love, conducting, but during summers and vacations he gradually built up a
résumé of film music, much of it associated with the Gothic and the
fantastic: the 1945 Hangover Square, a Lisztian concerto macabre; the 1947
Ghost and Mrs. Muir, a subtle spook piece; the 1951 Day the Earth Stood
Still, which includes eerie electronic effects; the 1959 Journey to the
Center of the Earth, whose "Atlantis" sequence resonates with five organs;
and the Ray Harryhausen fantasies, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and
the Argonauts (1958, 1963), where conventional instruments produce such
otherworldly sonorities that electronic devices are beside the point.
Herrmann's biggest break came when his colleague Lyn Murray recommended
him to Alfred Hitchcock, and the two hit it off. Hitchcock considered
using Herrmann as early as 1945, but scheduling problems and producers'
concerns about Herrmann's temperament kept them apart. When Hitchcock
landed him in 1955, the timing was ideal. The lush idiom of Max Steiner
and Erich Korngold had peaked, making Herrmann's brooding asperity all the
more welcome. (On Broadway, a similar pattern unfolded, as Rodgers and
Hammerstein gave way to the bittersweet attenuations of Stephen Sondheim,
whose Sweeney Todd is an homage to Herrmann.)
Herrmann's dark eloquence and harmonic instability are indelibly
associated with Hitchcock's golden period. Their personalities were
dramatically opposite--Hitchcock imperious and controlling, Herrmann
notoriously moody. Yet the two shared an uncompromising professionalism, a
hatred of mediocrity, a black sense of humor, and a contempt for the
Hollywood establishment matched by a longing for its approval.
Herrmann was Hitchcock's secret sharer, a conjurer of energies more
explosive and dangerous than Hitchcock's cool sensibility easily
permitted. He pushed the Master's cinema ever deeper into a world of
anxiety and obsession. Even the delectable North by Northwest (1959) has
moments of longing and trauma one does not associate with comedy cues.
Hitchcock was equally good for Herrmann, giving him a cachet he had not
enjoyed since the Welles days and a rare stability for a maverick not
connected to a studio. Hitchcock and his secret sharer had, as Conrad
would call it, "a mysterious communication" that allowed each to tap into
the other. To The Trouble With Harry (1955), Herrmann brought sardonic wit
warmed by Elgarian lyricism. To The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), he
contributed malevolently spare chords as Hitchcock's camera tracks James
Stewart and Doris Day through empty streets and alleyways. In The Wrong
Man (1956), he produced a Latin jazz number with a corrosive
undertone--champagne poured over acid.
In Vertigo, their most important collaboration, Hitchcock invited Herrmann
onto the set before scenes were shot to discuss ideas and timing, a return
to the heady Kane days. From the moment Herrmann's waltz begins spiraling
in the main title, plunging the listener into the cinema's most elegant
nightmare, Scottie Ferguson's obsession becomes ours.
Vertigo was not exactly a box-office triumph. No one in 1958 wanted to see
Jimmy Stewart land in an asylum, and no one wanted to see Kim Novak, the
love of his life, plummet to her death--twice. Hitchcock yanked Vertigo
out of circulation, but Herrmann's music, enshrined on a spectacular
Mercury LP, kept the memory alive until the film was resurrected in the
1980s.
Psycho (1960), however, was an instant hit, and Hitchcock admitted that
much of its jolting terror came from Herrmann's music. The shrieking
dissonance of "The Murder" is the cinema's primal scream, deeply embedded
in our movie-going subconscious, instantly evoking Norman Bates's slashing
knife and Marion Crane's helpless cries. Even more haunting is the quiet
music, which invests the most ordinary images--a naked light bulb, a
suitcase on a bed--with dread. That Herrmann used only strings, normally a
Hollywood marker for schmaltzy romance, is even more disquieting.
Hitchcock originally wanted scant music in Psycho and repeatedly ordered
Herrmann not to write anything for the shower scene. Herrmann composed the
notorious cue in secret, then unveiled it to Hitchcock after a Christmas
break. Legend has it that Hitchcock--who feared Psycho was a dud and was
considering cutting it up for television--immediately reversed himself.
But the archives show that as late as January 31, the shower scene was
still to have no music. Hitchcock clearly had trouble letting go, though
by the end, he had relinquished quite a bit. Beginning with the least
music, Psycho ended up with more than in any Hitchcock film except
Vertigo. As Joseph Stefano, Psycho's screenwriter, said to me, "Bernie
took the picture and turned it into an opera."
Herrmann worried that Hitchcock resented his crucial role in the film's
success, and indeed, Psycho was the beginning of a tragic rift over issues
of authority and authorship. By the mid-60s, the rock 'n' roll age, the
studios regarded Herrmann as a grumpy throwback to an outmoded symphonic
era and producers pressured Hitchcock to fire him. Hitchcock warned
Herrmann that for Torn Curtain (1966), his superiors wanted a "60s beat."
Implacably independent as ever, Herrmann wrote a brassy, brutal symphonic
score (the best thing about Torn Curtain) that once again included a
harrowing cue for a central murder scene where Hitchcock specified no
music. Hitchcock appeared unannounced at the recording session and in
front of the orchestra angrily rejected Herrmann's score, a bruising
public humiliation. The greatest director-composer partnership in
Hollywood history was suddenly, shockingly over.
Ironically, Francois Truffaut, Brian De Palma, and Martin Scorsese--the
very representatives of the 60s generation that the studios were so eager
to appease--quickly snatched up Herrmann. Herrmann, it turned out, was
very much in tune with the times; it was corporate Hollywood that was out
of touch.
For Brian De Palma's 1973 shocker, Sisters, Herrmann used Moog
synthesizers and ferocious dissonance to unleash his greatest sonic
assault since Psycho. For Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451, a vision of the 21st
century from 1966, he went in the opposite direction, contributing what he
called a "simple nudity" not unlike what composers like Arvo Pärt strive
for today. When he asked Truffaut why he didn't hire an avant-gardist like
Karlheinz Stockhausen, Truffaut answered, "They'll give me music of the
20th century ... you'll give me music of the 21st."
Two of Herrmann's most haunting scores were written in 1975, the last year
of his life. For Obsession, De Palma's homage to Vertigo, Herrmann
conjured ghostly variations from his Hitchcock score (as he had done in
his 1967 "Souvenir de Voyage" for Clarinet Quintet), creating an aura of
intense longing and nostalgia. The main motif, a two-note suspension,
demonstrated again his ability to create a large poetic canvas from the
smallest materials. Pipe organ, brass, and strings produce magisterial
sonorities, but an ethereal chorus makes Obsession sound like music
overheard in a dream. This elegiac score clearly had a deep personal
meaning for Herrmann, who broke down in tears at the first screening.
Herrmann's finale, Taxi Driver, is dark even for him. This is another
Herrmann-haunted road movie; instead of Cary Grant racing across America
or Janet Leigh driving on a highway to nowhere, we get Robert DeNiro
cruising his taxi through Martin Scorsese's vision of a fantastically
ruined New York night town, powered by shattering brass and percussion and
a melancholy sax solo. As with Obsession, a two-note plunge is the
nucleus; an air of impending collapse hangs over the score. Alarmed by
Herrmann's heart condition, many colleagues and admirers, including a
young Steven Spielberg, came to Taxi Driver's recording session, which
turned out to be Herrmann's last: He died in his sleep Christmas Day after
putting the final touch on the piece, a shuddering reprise of the motif
that ends Moby Dick and Psycho. Martin Scorsese ended his film with a
dedication: "In gratitude and admiration to the memory of Bernard
Herrmann."
According to this:

- The theme music for “Taxi Driver” is a hypnotic arresting score which feels like militarized call to arms, infused with jazz. As the film begins, we see a yellow cab driving through a cloud of steam, and the theme music attacks the viewer as soon as the first frame is revealed. The powerful score grabs your attention from the first moment you hear it.

Bernard Herrmann was a legendary composer scoring such films as “Citizen Kane”, “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, and is best remembered for his frequent collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock composing the scores for “Psycho”, “Vertigo”, and “The Man Who Knew Too Much” and during his career, the composer worked with notable directors like Orson Welles and Francois Truffaut.

After composing the scores for two of Brian De Palma’s films, “Sisters” and “Obsession De Palma”, he introduced the legendary composer to Scorsese, and Hermann would go on to score “Taxi Driver” which ended up being the last film Hermann would ever score because he passed away after composing the film’s music. The music plays a big role in the film because of its chaotic nature, and it’s so dramatic that it helps ratchet up the tension in the film.

http://www.tasteofcinema.com/2017/7-reasons-why-taxi-driver-is-a-masterpiece-of-american-cinema/
g***@gmail.com
2020-09-09 16:04:56 UTC
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Post by Premise Checker
CHE 57n42: Bernard Herrmann: Hollywood's Musical Poet
http://chronicle.com/article/Bernard-Herrmann-Hollywoods/128068/
Bernard Herrmann's singular career career in Hollywood helped make film
music an important subject of academic study.
Enlarge Image
By Jack Sullivan
Everyone who loves movies knows the music of Bernard Herrmann, whether
they realize it or not. The growling brass in Citizen Kane, the spiraling
arpeggios in Vertigo, the rocketing fandango in North by Northwest, the
sultry alto sax in Taxi Driver, the slashing strings in Psycho--these are
iconic sounds in modern cinema. Herrmann has a wide range, from the
silvery elegance of The Magnificent Ambersons to the blustery menace of
Mysterious Island, but his obsessive motifs, floating modal chords, and
sudden bursts of longing are instantly recognizable. Listen to the
plummeting brass in Cape Fear or the glassy strings in the original
Twilight Zone theme: They don't resolve, don't provide closure, and don't
really go anywhere; they just lodge in our imaginations, haunting us long
after the screen goes dark.
Herrmann's stock in this centenary year is high, celebrated around the
world in performances of rarities like his 1951 opera, Wuthering Heights,
and suites of his familiar film scores. Yet scholarly work seems oddly
scant: Royal S. Brown's important interviews from the late 60s and early
70s, a scattering of articles, a few academic books from the 70s and 80s,
a meticulous harmonic analysis of Vertigo by David Cooper from 2001
(Greenwood Press), and a magnificent 1991 biography, A Heart at Fire's
Center, by Steven C. Smith (University of California Press).
Herrmann's cool, explosive sound has always seemed modern, and he was
always popular with the young, a fact misunderstood by the "complete
ignoramuses" (as he called them) he worked for during most of his career
and who were the object of his legendary tirades. When I teach my
Hitchcock course at Rider University, I'm always amazed how many students
know at least some of Herrmann's work. In March, when I gave a keynote
speech for "Partners in Suspense: Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann,"
a centenary conference in York, England, the usual suspects in the
scholarly community were there, but also a welcome crowd of young Herrmann
fanatics.
As a student at Juilliard and New York University, Herrmann studied with
Percy Grainger, from whom he inherited a hatred of pretension, a love for
unusual orchestration, and a fondness for daring harmony within a tonal
framework. Unlike classical composers who wrote film music as a necessary
sideshow to make money, Herrmann regarded his film, radio, and television
work as inseparable from his "classical" pieces; for him, these media were
essential for any 20th-century composer interested in reaching a real
audience. That academe and the classical-music community looked down on
film music was one of his greatest frustrations.
Herrmann's early career as a radio composer in the 1930s taught him to be
lean and economical. As chief conductor for CBS, he championed the work of
Charles Ives, Frederick Delius, and other iconoclasts whose
anti-establishment orneriness matched his own. From the beginning, he was
attracted to projects depicting lonely outsiders confronting tragic fates
and implacable forces of nature, from the convulsive 1938 cantata Moby
Dick to the Brontë sisters' works Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights (1943,
1951), to scores for Vertigo (1958) and Taxi Driver (1976).
Herrmann's breakthrough came from his partnership with Orson Welles,
another temperamental radical shunned by the establishment, whose Mercury
Theatre was leased by CBS. He teamed up with Welles in the notorious War
of the Worlds radio stunt in 1938, and Welles took him along when he
decided to make a movie in 1940--none other than Citizen Kane.
Welles had Herrmann at his side during shooting, shaping scenes to match
the music, and giving Hermann 12 weeks to complete the score--about twice
the norm. Kane carries Herrmann's lifelong signatures: a fanatical unity
based on the scantiest scraps, in this case a fragment of a medieval "Dies
Irae" chant sounded by glowering fanfares; and a fondness for spicy
chamber ensembles, especially low brass and shimmering percussion. For
Herrmann, color and timbre were all-important. Unlike most Hollywood
composers (John Williams being a notable exception), he orchestrated
everything himself and was contemptuous of those who hired arrangers.
The most radical aspect of Kane's music was its avoidance of swooning
Hollywood melody and its refusal to imitate what is on the screen. The
music comes from the inside, existing, as Herrmann put it, to "intensify
the inner thoughts of the characters.... It is the communicating link
between the screen and audience, reaching out and enveloping all into one
single experience." Herrmann's score, like Welles's deep-focus
photography, is a multilayered force that "envelops" the moviegoer, though
what it reveals is more intimate. The poignant "Rosebud" theme tells us
that underneath the imperious chorales depicting Kane's grandiosity is a
desperate, lonely soul. From the beginning, Herrmann could capture a
psyche with a few notes.
For Welles's next film, The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Herrmann
contributed delicate variations on a waltz by Émile Waldteufel. Written
for evanescent strings, chirping winds, and the sparkle of celestas and
glockenspiels, this wistful score is a requiem for a vanishing
preindustrial America, but it turned out to be one for the Herrmann-Welles
collaboration as well. Herrmann angrily stalked out of the screening room
when he saw the studio had cut his score (and Welles's images) in half,
demanding, with threat of a lawsuit, that his name be removed from the
credits, which it was. He never worked with Welles again. Though he had
many bitter run-ins with Hollywood brass, he told Martin Scorsese that
Ambersons was "the real heartbreaker" of his career.
Following the Ambersons debacle, Herrmann plunged headlong into his first
love, conducting, but during summers and vacations he gradually built up a
résumé of film music, much of it associated with the Gothic and the
fantastic: the 1945 Hangover Square, a Lisztian concerto macabre; the 1947
Ghost and Mrs. Muir, a subtle spook piece; the 1951 Day the Earth Stood
Still, which includes eerie electronic effects; the 1959 Journey to the
Center of the Earth, whose "Atlantis" sequence resonates with five organs;
and the Ray Harryhausen fantasies, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and
the Argonauts (1958, 1963), where conventional instruments produce such
otherworldly sonorities that electronic devices are beside the point.
Herrmann's biggest break came when his colleague Lyn Murray recommended
him to Alfred Hitchcock, and the two hit it off. Hitchcock considered
using Herrmann as early as 1945, but scheduling problems and producers'
concerns about Herrmann's temperament kept them apart. When Hitchcock
landed him in 1955, the timing was ideal. The lush idiom of Max Steiner
and Erich Korngold had peaked, making Herrmann's brooding asperity all the
more welcome. (On Broadway, a similar pattern unfolded, as Rodgers and
Hammerstein gave way to the bittersweet attenuations of Stephen Sondheim,
whose Sweeney Todd is an homage to Herrmann.)
Herrmann's dark eloquence and harmonic instability are indelibly
associated with Hitchcock's golden period. Their personalities were
dramatically opposite--Hitchcock imperious and controlling, Herrmann
notoriously moody. Yet the two shared an uncompromising professionalism, a
hatred of mediocrity, a black sense of humor, and a contempt for the
Hollywood establishment matched by a longing for its approval.
Herrmann was Hitchcock's secret sharer, a conjurer of energies more
explosive and dangerous than Hitchcock's cool sensibility easily
permitted. He pushed the Master's cinema ever deeper into a world of
anxiety and obsession. Even the delectable North by Northwest (1959) has
moments of longing and trauma one does not associate with comedy cues.
Hitchcock was equally good for Herrmann, giving him a cachet he had not
enjoyed since the Welles days and a rare stability for a maverick not
connected to a studio. Hitchcock and his secret sharer had, as Conrad
would call it, "a mysterious communication" that allowed each to tap into
the other. To The Trouble With Harry (1955), Herrmann brought sardonic wit
warmed by Elgarian lyricism. To The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), he
contributed malevolently spare chords as Hitchcock's camera tracks James
Stewart and Doris Day through empty streets and alleyways. In The Wrong
Man (1956), he produced a Latin jazz number with a corrosive
undertone--champagne poured over acid.
In Vertigo, their most important collaboration, Hitchcock invited Herrmann
onto the set before scenes were shot to discuss ideas and timing, a return
to the heady Kane days. From the moment Herrmann's waltz begins spiraling
in the main title, plunging the listener into the cinema's most elegant
nightmare, Scottie Ferguson's obsession becomes ours.
Vertigo was not exactly a box-office triumph. No one in 1958 wanted to see
Jimmy Stewart land in an asylum, and no one wanted to see Kim Novak, the
love of his life, plummet to her death--twice. Hitchcock yanked Vertigo
out of circulation, but Herrmann's music, enshrined on a spectacular
Mercury LP, kept the memory alive until the film was resurrected in the
1980s.
According to this:

- Bernard Herrmann Came To Hate His Acclaimed Musical Score

https://screenrant.com/only-one-wanderer-behind-the-scenes-facts-vertigo/
g***@gmail.com
2020-09-09 16:05:22 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Premise Checker
CHE 57n42: Bernard Herrmann: Hollywood's Musical Poet
http://chronicle.com/article/Bernard-Herrmann-Hollywoods/128068/
Bernard Herrmann's singular career career in Hollywood helped make film
music an important subject of academic study.
Enlarge Image
By Jack Sullivan
Everyone who loves movies knows the music of Bernard Herrmann, whether
they realize it or not. The growling brass in Citizen Kane, the spiraling
arpeggios in Vertigo, the rocketing fandango in North by Northwest, the
sultry alto sax in Taxi Driver, the slashing strings in Psycho--these are
iconic sounds in modern cinema. Herrmann has a wide range, from the
silvery elegance of The Magnificent Ambersons to the blustery menace of
Mysterious Island, but his obsessive motifs, floating modal chords, and
sudden bursts of longing are instantly recognizable. Listen to the
plummeting brass in Cape Fear or the glassy strings in the original
Twilight Zone theme: They don't resolve, don't provide closure, and don't
really go anywhere; they just lodge in our imaginations, haunting us long
after the screen goes dark.
Herrmann's stock in this centenary year is high, celebrated around the
world in performances of rarities like his 1951 opera, Wuthering Heights,
and suites of his familiar film scores. Yet scholarly work seems oddly
scant: Royal S. Brown's important interviews from the late 60s and early
70s, a scattering of articles, a few academic books from the 70s and 80s,
a meticulous harmonic analysis of Vertigo by David Cooper from 2001
(Greenwood Press), and a magnificent 1991 biography, A Heart at Fire's
Center, by Steven C. Smith (University of California Press).
Herrmann's cool, explosive sound has always seemed modern, and he was
always popular with the young, a fact misunderstood by the "complete
ignoramuses" (as he called them) he worked for during most of his career
and who were the object of his legendary tirades. When I teach my
Hitchcock course at Rider University, I'm always amazed how many students
know at least some of Herrmann's work. In March, when I gave a keynote
speech for "Partners in Suspense: Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann,"
a centenary conference in York, England, the usual suspects in the
scholarly community were there, but also a welcome crowd of young Herrmann
fanatics.
As a student at Juilliard and New York University, Herrmann studied with
Percy Grainger, from whom he inherited a hatred of pretension, a love for
unusual orchestration, and a fondness for daring harmony within a tonal
framework. Unlike classical composers who wrote film music as a necessary
sideshow to make money, Herrmann regarded his film, radio, and television
work as inseparable from his "classical" pieces; for him, these media were
essential for any 20th-century composer interested in reaching a real
audience. That academe and the classical-music community looked down on
film music was one of his greatest frustrations.
Herrmann's early career as a radio composer in the 1930s taught him to be
lean and economical. As chief conductor for CBS, he championed the work of
Charles Ives, Frederick Delius, and other iconoclasts whose
anti-establishment orneriness matched his own. From the beginning, he was
attracted to projects depicting lonely outsiders confronting tragic fates
and implacable forces of nature, from the convulsive 1938 cantata Moby
Dick to the Brontë sisters' works Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights (1943,
1951), to scores for Vertigo (1958) and Taxi Driver (1976).
Herrmann's breakthrough came from his partnership with Orson Welles,
another temperamental radical shunned by the establishment, whose Mercury
Theatre was leased by CBS. He teamed up with Welles in the notorious War
of the Worlds radio stunt in 1938, and Welles took him along when he
decided to make a movie in 1940--none other than Citizen Kane.
Welles had Herrmann at his side during shooting, shaping scenes to match
the music, and giving Hermann 12 weeks to complete the score--about twice
the norm. Kane carries Herrmann's lifelong signatures: a fanatical unity
based on the scantiest scraps, in this case a fragment of a medieval "Dies
Irae" chant sounded by glowering fanfares; and a fondness for spicy
chamber ensembles, especially low brass and shimmering percussion. For
Herrmann, color and timbre were all-important. Unlike most Hollywood
composers (John Williams being a notable exception), he orchestrated
everything himself and was contemptuous of those who hired arrangers.
The most radical aspect of Kane's music was its avoidance of swooning
Hollywood melody and its refusal to imitate what is on the screen. The
music comes from the inside, existing, as Herrmann put it, to "intensify
the inner thoughts of the characters.... It is the communicating link
between the screen and audience, reaching out and enveloping all into one
single experience." Herrmann's score, like Welles's deep-focus
photography, is a multilayered force that "envelops" the moviegoer, though
what it reveals is more intimate. The poignant "Rosebud" theme tells us
that underneath the imperious chorales depicting Kane's grandiosity is a
desperate, lonely soul. From the beginning, Herrmann could capture a
psyche with a few notes.
For Welles's next film, The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Herrmann
contributed delicate variations on a waltz by Émile Waldteufel. Written
for evanescent strings, chirping winds, and the sparkle of celestas and
glockenspiels, this wistful score is a requiem for a vanishing
preindustrial America, but it turned out to be one for the Herrmann-Welles
collaboration as well. Herrmann angrily stalked out of the screening room
when he saw the studio had cut his score (and Welles's images) in half,
demanding, with threat of a lawsuit, that his name be removed from the
credits, which it was. He never worked with Welles again. Though he had
many bitter run-ins with Hollywood brass, he told Martin Scorsese that
Ambersons was "the real heartbreaker" of his career.
Following the Ambersons debacle, Herrmann plunged headlong into his first
love, conducting, but during summers and vacations he gradually built up a
résumé of film music, much of it associated with the Gothic and the
fantastic: the 1945 Hangover Square, a Lisztian concerto macabre; the 1947
Ghost and Mrs. Muir, a subtle spook piece; the 1951 Day the Earth Stood
Still, which includes eerie electronic effects; the 1959 Journey to the
Center of the Earth, whose "Atlantis" sequence resonates with five organs;
and the Ray Harryhausen fantasies, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and
the Argonauts (1958, 1963), where conventional instruments produce such
otherworldly sonorities that electronic devices are beside the point.
Herrmann's biggest break came when his colleague Lyn Murray recommended
him to Alfred Hitchcock, and the two hit it off. Hitchcock considered
using Herrmann as early as 1945, but scheduling problems and producers'
concerns about Herrmann's temperament kept them apart. When Hitchcock
landed him in 1955, the timing was ideal. The lush idiom of Max Steiner
and Erich Korngold had peaked, making Herrmann's brooding asperity all the
more welcome. (On Broadway, a similar pattern unfolded, as Rodgers and
Hammerstein gave way to the bittersweet attenuations of Stephen Sondheim,
whose Sweeney Todd is an homage to Herrmann.)
Herrmann's dark eloquence and harmonic instability are indelibly
associated with Hitchcock's golden period. Their personalities were
dramatically opposite--Hitchcock imperious and controlling, Herrmann
notoriously moody. Yet the two shared an uncompromising professionalism, a
hatred of mediocrity, a black sense of humor, and a contempt for the
Hollywood establishment matched by a longing for its approval.
Herrmann was Hitchcock's secret sharer, a conjurer of energies more
explosive and dangerous than Hitchcock's cool sensibility easily
permitted. He pushed the Master's cinema ever deeper into a world of
anxiety and obsession. Even the delectable North by Northwest (1959) has
moments of longing and trauma one does not associate with comedy cues.
Hitchcock was equally good for Herrmann, giving him a cachet he had not
enjoyed since the Welles days and a rare stability for a maverick not
connected to a studio. Hitchcock and his secret sharer had, as Conrad
would call it, "a mysterious communication" that allowed each to tap into
the other. To The Trouble With Harry (1955), Herrmann brought sardonic wit
warmed by Elgarian lyricism. To The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), he
contributed malevolently spare chords as Hitchcock's camera tracks James
Stewart and Doris Day through empty streets and alleyways. In The Wrong
Man (1956), he produced a Latin jazz number with a corrosive
undertone--champagne poured over acid.
In Vertigo, their most important collaboration, Hitchcock invited Herrmann
onto the set before scenes were shot to discuss ideas and timing, a return
to the heady Kane days. From the moment Herrmann's waltz begins spiraling
in the main title, plunging the listener into the cinema's most elegant
nightmare, Scottie Ferguson's obsession becomes ours.
Vertigo was not exactly a box-office triumph. No one in 1958 wanted to see
Jimmy Stewart land in an asylum, and no one wanted to see Kim Novak, the
love of his life, plummet to her death--twice. Hitchcock yanked Vertigo
out of circulation, but Herrmann's music, enshrined on a spectacular
Mercury LP, kept the memory alive until the film was resurrected in the
1980s.
According to this:

- Bernard Herrmann Came To Hate His Acclaimed Musical Score

https://screenrant.com/only-one-wanderer-behind-the-scenes-facts-vertigo/
g***@gmail.com
2020-09-10 04:36:50 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Premise Checker
CHE 57n42: Bernard Herrmann: Hollywood's Musical Poet
http://chronicle.com/article/Bernard-Herrmann-Hollywoods/128068/
Bernard Herrmann's singular career career in Hollywood helped make film
music an important subject of academic study.
Enlarge Image
By Jack Sullivan
Everyone who loves movies knows the music of Bernard Herrmann, whether
they realize it or not. The growling brass in Citizen Kane, the spiraling
arpeggios in Vertigo, the rocketing fandango in North by Northwest, the
sultry alto sax in Taxi Driver, the slashing strings in Psycho--these are
iconic sounds in modern cinema. Herrmann has a wide range, from the
silvery elegance of The Magnificent Ambersons to the blustery menace of
Mysterious Island, but his obsessive motifs, floating modal chords, and
sudden bursts of longing are instantly recognizable. Listen to the
plummeting brass in Cape Fear or the glassy strings in the original
Twilight Zone theme: They don't resolve, don't provide closure, and don't
really go anywhere; they just lodge in our imaginations, haunting us long
after the screen goes dark.
Herrmann's stock in this centenary year is high, celebrated around the
world in performances of rarities like his 1951 opera, Wuthering Heights,
and suites of his familiar film scores. Yet scholarly work seems oddly
scant: Royal S. Brown's important interviews from the late 60s and early
70s, a scattering of articles, a few academic books from the 70s and 80s,
a meticulous harmonic analysis of Vertigo by David Cooper from 2001
(Greenwood Press), and a magnificent 1991 biography, A Heart at Fire's
Center, by Steven C. Smith (University of California Press).
Herrmann's cool, explosive sound has always seemed modern, and he was
always popular with the young, a fact misunderstood by the "complete
ignoramuses" (as he called them) he worked for during most of his career
and who were the object of his legendary tirades. When I teach my
Hitchcock course at Rider University, I'm always amazed how many students
know at least some of Herrmann's work. In March, when I gave a keynote
speech for "Partners in Suspense: Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann,"
a centenary conference in York, England, the usual suspects in the
scholarly community were there, but also a welcome crowd of young Herrmann
fanatics.
As a student at Juilliard and New York University, Herrmann studied with
Percy Grainger, from whom he inherited a hatred of pretension, a love for
unusual orchestration, and a fondness for daring harmony within a tonal
framework. Unlike classical composers who wrote film music as a necessary
sideshow to make money, Herrmann regarded his film, radio, and television
work as inseparable from his "classical" pieces; for him, these media were
essential for any 20th-century composer interested in reaching a real
audience. That academe and the classical-music community looked down on
film music was one of his greatest frustrations.
Herrmann's early career as a radio composer in the 1930s taught him to be
lean and economical. As chief conductor for CBS, he championed the work of
Charles Ives, Frederick Delius, and other iconoclasts whose
anti-establishment orneriness matched his own. From the beginning, he was
attracted to projects depicting lonely outsiders confronting tragic fates
and implacable forces of nature, from the convulsive 1938 cantata Moby
Dick to the Brontë sisters' works Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights (1943,
1951), to scores for Vertigo (1958) and Taxi Driver (1976).
Herrmann's breakthrough came from his partnership with Orson Welles,
another temperamental radical shunned by the establishment, whose Mercury
Theatre was leased by CBS. He teamed up with Welles in the notorious War
of the Worlds radio stunt in 1938, and Welles took him along when he
decided to make a movie in 1940--none other than Citizen Kane.
Welles had Herrmann at his side during shooting, shaping scenes to match
the music, and giving Hermann 12 weeks to complete the score--about twice
the norm. Kane carries Herrmann's lifelong signatures: a fanatical unity
based on the scantiest scraps, in this case a fragment of a medieval "Dies
Irae" chant sounded by glowering fanfares; and a fondness for spicy
chamber ensembles, especially low brass and shimmering percussion. For
Herrmann, color and timbre were all-important. Unlike most Hollywood
composers (John Williams being a notable exception), he orchestrated
everything himself and was contemptuous of those who hired arrangers.
The most radical aspect of Kane's music was its avoidance of swooning
Hollywood melody and its refusal to imitate what is on the screen. The
music comes from the inside, existing, as Herrmann put it, to "intensify
the inner thoughts of the characters.... It is the communicating link
between the screen and audience, reaching out and enveloping all into one
single experience." Herrmann's score, like Welles's deep-focus
photography, is a multilayered force that "envelops" the moviegoer, though
what it reveals is more intimate. The poignant "Rosebud" theme tells us
that underneath the imperious chorales depicting Kane's grandiosity is a
desperate, lonely soul. From the beginning, Herrmann could capture a
psyche with a few notes.
For Welles's next film, The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Herrmann
contributed delicate variations on a waltz by Émile Waldteufel. Written
for evanescent strings, chirping winds, and the sparkle of celestas and
glockenspiels, this wistful score is a requiem for a vanishing
preindustrial America, but it turned out to be one for the Herrmann-Welles
collaboration as well. Herrmann angrily stalked out of the screening room
when he saw the studio had cut his score (and Welles's images) in half,
demanding, with threat of a lawsuit, that his name be removed from the
credits, which it was. He never worked with Welles again. Though he had
many bitter run-ins with Hollywood brass, he told Martin Scorsese that
Ambersons was "the real heartbreaker" of his career.
Following the Ambersons debacle, Herrmann plunged headlong into his first
love, conducting, but during summers and vacations he gradually built up a
résumé of film music, much of it associated with the Gothic and the
fantastic: the 1945 Hangover Square, a Lisztian concerto macabre; the 1947
Ghost and Mrs. Muir, a subtle spook piece; the 1951 Day the Earth Stood
Still, which includes eerie electronic effects; the 1959 Journey to the
Center of the Earth, whose "Atlantis" sequence resonates with five organs;
and the Ray Harryhausen fantasies, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and
the Argonauts (1958, 1963), where conventional instruments produce such
otherworldly sonorities that electronic devices are beside the point.
Herrmann's biggest break came when his colleague Lyn Murray recommended
him to Alfred Hitchcock, and the two hit it off. Hitchcock considered
using Herrmann as early as 1945, but scheduling problems and producers'
concerns about Herrmann's temperament kept them apart. When Hitchcock
landed him in 1955, the timing was ideal. The lush idiom of Max Steiner
and Erich Korngold had peaked, making Herrmann's brooding asperity all the
more welcome. (On Broadway, a similar pattern unfolded, as Rodgers and
Hammerstein gave way to the bittersweet attenuations of Stephen Sondheim,
whose Sweeney Todd is an homage to Herrmann.)
Herrmann's dark eloquence and harmonic instability are indelibly
associated with Hitchcock's golden period. Their personalities were
dramatically opposite--Hitchcock imperious and controlling, Herrmann
notoriously moody. Yet the two shared an uncompromising professionalism, a
hatred of mediocrity, a black sense of humor, and a contempt for the
Hollywood establishment matched by a longing for its approval.
Herrmann was Hitchcock's secret sharer, a conjurer of energies more
explosive and dangerous than Hitchcock's cool sensibility easily
permitted. He pushed the Master's cinema ever deeper into a world of
anxiety and obsession. Even the delectable North by Northwest (1959) has
moments of longing and trauma one does not associate with comedy cues.
Hitchcock was equally good for Herrmann, giving him a cachet he had not
enjoyed since the Welles days and a rare stability for a maverick not
connected to a studio. Hitchcock and his secret sharer had, as Conrad
would call it, "a mysterious communication" that allowed each to tap into
the other. To The Trouble With Harry (1955), Herrmann brought sardonic wit
warmed by Elgarian lyricism. To The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), he
contributed malevolently spare chords as Hitchcock's camera tracks James
Stewart and Doris Day through empty streets and alleyways. In The Wrong
Man (1956), he produced a Latin jazz number with a corrosive
undertone--champagne poured over acid.
In Vertigo, their most important collaboration, Hitchcock invited Herrmann
onto the set before scenes were shot to discuss ideas and timing, a return
to the heady Kane days. From the moment Herrmann's waltz begins spiraling
in the main title, plunging the listener into the cinema's most elegant
nightmare, Scottie Ferguson's obsession becomes ours.
Vertigo was not exactly a box-office triumph. No one in 1958 wanted to see
Jimmy Stewart land in an asylum, and no one wanted to see Kim Novak, the
love of his life, plummet to her death--twice. Hitchcock yanked Vertigo
out of circulation, but Herrmann's music, enshrined on a spectacular
Mercury LP, kept the memory alive until the film was resurrected in the
1980s.
Psycho (1960), however, was an instant hit, and Hitchcock admitted that
much of its jolting terror came from Herrmann's music. The shrieking
dissonance of "The Murder" is the cinema's primal scream, deeply embedded
in our movie-going subconscious, instantly evoking Norman Bates's slashing
knife and Marion Crane's helpless cries. Even more haunting is the quiet
music, which invests the most ordinary images--a naked light bulb, a
suitcase on a bed--with dread. That Herrmann used only strings, normally a
Hollywood marker for schmaltzy romance, is even more disquieting.
Hitchcock originally wanted scant music in Psycho and repeatedly ordered
Herrmann not to write anything for the shower scene. Herrmann composed the
notorious cue in secret, then unveiled it to Hitchcock after a Christmas
break. Legend has it that Hitchcock--who feared Psycho was a dud and was
considering cutting it up for television--immediately reversed himself.
But the archives show that as late as January 31, the shower scene was
still to have no music. Hitchcock clearly had trouble letting go, though
by the end, he had relinquished quite a bit. Beginning with the least
music, Psycho ended up with more than in any Hitchcock film except
Vertigo. As Joseph Stefano, Psycho's screenwriter, said to me, "Bernie
took the picture and turned it into an opera."
https://theconversation.com/the-great-movie-scenes-hitchcocks-psycho-and-the-power-of-jarring-music-97325
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